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Ralph Lauren Enters The Fourth Dimension

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“Witness the ultimate collision of fashion, art, and technology.” “Be prepared to see Madison Avenue in a whole new light.” The invite to RalphLauren.com’s tenth anniversary celebration tomorrow night makes big promises. David Lauren, son of Ralph and Polo Ralph Lauren’s senior vice president of advertising, marketing, and corporate communications, had even more during a preview of the event he gave Style.com: “It’s not just game-changing, it’s life-changing.”

So what exactly is the “it” he’s talking about? Come 8 p.m. on Wednesday, two lanes of Madison Avenue will be shut down to traffic and filled with spectators (not just the fashion set; it’s open to the public as well). There, they’ll be treated to a 4-D experience in which the new Ralph Lauren women’s flagship will sway, turn into fabric, collapse, and reappear before the walls retract and a virtual runway complete with models materializes. In addition, giant neckties (a nod to the first product Ralph Lauren ever designed) will spill from the roof, but the coup de grâce will come when members of Prince Charles’ polo team break through the building’s facade and charge down the street. As for the 4 in 4-D, that would be the real Big Pony fragrance that’s going to spray from the virtual perfume bottles spinning over the crowd’s heads. “It’s like the movie Inception come to life,” David promises.

How’s it done? As he explains it: “Through architectural mapping, the building was digitized with lasers, mapped on a computer, re-rendered, and is then projected back onto the building.” His tech team worked with the wizards behind the Harry Potter movies to pull it off, and it’s not just happening in New York, but also at the store on New Bond Street in London. (The brand is eager to bring attention to its new U.K. e-commerce operation, as well as to celebrate a decade of innovation on RalphLauren.com.)

All this sounds like pretty unique promotion for a company that’s long excelled at that sort of thing, but life-changing? Well, yes, just possibly. Or landscape-changing, at the very least. Imagine every store on Avenue Montaigne in Paris or the Bund in Shanghai adopting this technology, and suddenly our nighttime cityscapes could start to resemble a scene from a science-fiction film. “The holograms we’ve been seeing in movies for ages are finally real,” David says. “The designer will no longer just be in pages of ads, he’ll be leaning out the store window and answering questions.” That’s right, Wednesday night’s experience will include a four-story-high rendering of Ralph Lauren himself. In addition to the 8 p.m., there are also screenings at 8:30 and 9.

Photos: Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

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