BY THE BOOK: While the brand may have started with a tie, over the years Ralph Lauren and the polo shirt have become almost synonymous in American culture. Now the New York-based fashion label is celebrating its signature product in a coffee-table book published by Rizzoli International.
“The polo shirt is to Ralph Lauren what Mickey Mouse is to Disney or the Statue of Liberty is to New York,” the book begins. “It’s the signature of the company Ralph Lauren created over five decades ago, a symbol that conjures up not only a luxurious way of living, but a chic casualness and ease that has become a cornerstone of American style itself.”
The heavy, 544-page, 6.5-inch-by-8.5-inch hardcover book features a forward by Ralph Lauren as well as documentarist Ken Burns, and an afterward by David Lauren, vice chairman of Ralph Lauren Corp. and son of the designer.
“I wanted the shirt to become part of the life of the person who wore it,” Ralph Lauren writes. “I never knew that after 50 years it would become such a personal icon all over the world. What I do has always come from the way people live. It’s honest and from the heart and hopefully that is what touches the diversity of people who wear my Polo and all my clothes.”
This book, which features 400 color photographs, celebrates the shirt over the years through the use of historic imagery and personal stories of celebrities, politicians, presidents, royals, athletes and everyday people. They include everyone from Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to Paul Newman, Kanye West, Sean Combs and Gigi Hadid — all featured sporting the brand’s iconic polo. There’s a chapter on the Polo pony logo itself, a symbol the company created in 1972, along with sections on the classic white polo, the weathered polo, the Earth Polo, the company’s sustainable product, as well as its appearance in the Olympics, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon.
American filmmaker Burns sums it up this way: “When you wear a Polo shirt, you’re instantly engaged in a profound irony between being unique, but also — because so many others in the world wear it — belonging.”
To promote the book, titled “Ralph Lauren’s Polo Shirt,” the company will offer a limited number of vintage and collectible designs featured in the book for purchase in select stores as well as on the Polo app. They have been sourced from the brand’s archival collection and verified to ensure their authenticity.
The company is also offering The Upcyced Polo Shirt, a selection of pieces that have been repaired by hand by artisans from the Los Angeles-based circular design platform Atelier & Repairs and given a new life through the use of an overdyed process to give each shirt an indigo hue and patched with vintage fabrics on the placket and at the gussets.
New options for ordering polo shirts will also be available through the company’s Custom Polo, Made to Order program.
In addition, the company will open The Ralph Lauren Polo Shop Concept Store in Tokyo on the Ginza and in Berlin. The shops will showcase the company’s polo shirts and include customizaion shops for men, women and children.
Ralph Lauren’s Polo shirt is available now and retails for $36.95. — JEAN E. PALMIERI
FAB FOUR: Erdem Moralioglu, Olivier Theyskens, Gaia Repossi, Pierre M’Pelé and Piergiorgio Del Moro are among the fashion figures who have joined the advisory board of the fourth edition of Fashion Trust Arabia’s annual prize for fashion designers from the Middle East and North Africa.
The nonprofit organization is once again planning a live awards ceremony, to be held in Doha, Qatar, on Oct. 26. This year’s guest country is Turkey, with a separate award to be handed to a Turkish designer specializing in women’s ready-to-wear.
“In only a few short years, the FTA Awards have become established as an annual highlight of the international fashion calendar,” Sheikha Al-Mayassa Bint Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, cofounder of FTA and chairperson of Qatar Museums and the Doha Film Institute, said in a statement.
“This dazzlingly quick success testifies to the vibrancy of the burgeoning fashion industry in the MENA region and the astonishing depth of talent among its designers,” she added.
Applications are open until Saturday. Designers, who must have MENA heritage or part of their brand’s business activities based in the region, can apply for one of five categories: Ready-to-Wear, Eveningwear, Accessories, Jewelry and the Franca Sozzani Debut Talent Award — the latter for graduate designers.
The advisory board will select the 24 finalists who will present their work to the FTA jury. The winners in the four main categories will receive a financial grant of between $100,000 and $200,000, while the recipient of the Franca Sozzani Award will secure a cash award of $25,000 and a mentorship program.
Winning designers will also benefit from a one-year partnership with British luxury retailer Matchesfashion, which includes a mentorship program and showcase of their collections across all channels, in addition to expert guidance on sustainability from ethical fashion retailer Maison de Mode.
Also among the new members of the advisory board are Aquazzura founder and creative director Edgardo Osorio; influencer Bryan Grey Yambao, aka Bryanboy; Malone Souliers founder and creative director Mary Alice Malone; styling duo Wayman Bannerman and Micah McDonald, and editors Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Adam Baidawi, Tiffany Godoy and Imruh Asha.
Returning advisory board members include Elizabeth von der Goltz, chief commercial officer of Matchesfashion; entrepreneur and investor Carmen Busquets; Fabio Piras, director of Central Saint Martins’ MA Fashion course; Sarah Andelman, founder of consulting agency Just an Idea; talent agent Saif Mahdhi; and editors Nina Garcia, Alexander Fury, Sara Maino, Patti Wilson and Sofia Guellaty.
“It’s always such an honor to have the support of some of the most renowned names from the industry. We are grateful for their participation in shortlisting FTA’s finalists, which really elevates the prize each year to new heights and helps put MENA designers on the global fashion map,” said FTA cofounder Tania Fares.
The advisory board will also be responsible for creating the shortlist of Turkish designers for the Guest Country Award, to be conferred in partnership with the Istanbul Apparel Exporters’ Association.
“The partnership with Turkey represents an opportunity for young designers from the MENA region and Turkey to be exposed to each other’s markets and exchange knowledge. Both regions share a rich culture of craftsmanship and artisanal work, which presents them with endless opportunities for further exploration,” FTA said. — JOELLE DIDERICH
DARING UNDIES: Italian hip swimwear brand Oséree is venturing into lingerie, extending its signature feminine and flamboyant aesthetics that have contributed to its success, drawing such fans as Rihanna, who recently showed her baby bump in the brand’s sequined bikini and skirt.
“Our clients had been asking for a lingerie collection for some time and the concept behind our swimwear was suitable for such a crossover,” said Isabella Cavallin, who cofounded the brand in 2015 with Jannine Vinci.
Since establishing the company, the Oséree creatives have offered swimwear that can easily transition from day to night and beach to party, adding sensual and playful touches, lots of sequins, rhinestones and feathers. The same attitude was channeled into the new project in which even the basics boast a cool and girlish twist — cue peach tulle underpants and matching bras trimmed in lurex threads.
“It’s a sunset-to-sunrise collection that can be sported in different occasions as if it were partywear or nightwear,” Cavallin explained, noting that they didn’t spare functional details including adjustable shoulder straps, hook-and-eye fasteners and wide-ranging sizes.
Organized over different themes, the collection includes lingerie dotted in tiny multicolored rhinestones, nightgowns and stockings trimmed in feather, delicate lace-bearing undies and leotards, as well as jumpsuits and pajamas in disco fabrics that can easily be worn as party attire.
For the launch Oséree has secured an exclusive with Mytheresa, ahead of the global rollout of the full collection next September. The capsule collection is also available at the brand’s online store.
The designers have ambitious plans for the category, having already secured premium retailers including Harrods, Net-a-porter and LuisaViaRoma, among others, with their beachwear collections. “We expect the lingerie line to perform very well as it has already attracted the interest of our partner retailers,” Cavallin said.
Oséree has two retail units in Ibiza, Spain and Tulum, Mexico, and is considering opening a temporary store at Milan’s department store Rinascente, but the brand generates the bulk of its revenues from wholesale.
The duo has been expanding its product offering already, building a ready-to-wear division to offer beach attire, including kaftans and pajamas, as well as hats and accessories, in addition to a kid’s wear line introduced in 2019. — MARTINO CARRERA