What to give the designer who has everything? For Ralph Lauren, who was celebrating not only the opening of his new Madison Avenue women's flagship but also his 71st birthday yesterday, only a Key to the City of New York will do. Presenting Lauren with the high honor in front of a crowd that included Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Candice Bergen, and Charlie Rose, Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the designer's business and philanthropic achievements, before asking, "What does the key open?" He supplied his own deadpan answer: "Absolutely nothing." But, he added, "I have on good authority, it's the accessories that make the outfit." To prove his point, he also gave the honoree a plastic "I love New York" key chain.
According to the designer, accessories are just one part of the Ralph Lauren formula. "I remember playing basketball as a kid on the courts in the Bronx," he recounted. "Now I'm here, and I didn't get here alone." A survey of the well-wishers in the four-floor mansion-cum-store turned up plenty of RL alums. Vera Wang, who was a design director at the brand before striking out on her own, reminisced, "It feels like home." Martha Stewart, meanwhile, was never staff, but she played along last night. "I used to make his corporate Christmas presents," she said. "I knew him before he was 'Ralph!'"