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Ralph Lauren Doc Makes U.K. Debut at Royal Academy in London

Samantha Conti

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LONDON — Was Ralph Lauren even a little weary after a whistle-stop tour of Europe to promote his new documentary, “Very Ralph”? Absolutely not.

“I’m on a high,” said the 80-year-old designer as he made his way up the big stone staircase to dinner at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. “It’s been fabulous — I’m not tired at all, and I’m headed home tomorrow.”

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Dressed in a dark suit and white shirt — a change from the pit-crew leather jacket he’d donned in Paris earlier this week — the designer was ready to party with family, staff, friends and Londoners who will forever be grateful to him.

“I did my first pictures with Ralph Lauren — by accident — in 1987,” said model Saffron Aldridge. “I went with some friends to a shoot with Bruce Weber thinking I’d be standing in the background drinking Champagne. I was only supposed to be an extra.”

Lauren clapped eyes on the statuesque Brit, and the rest was history. Aldridge has been working with the brand ever since. Her sister Lily also models for the brand while Aldridge’s sons have been in campaigns, too. Talk about a family affair.

Designer Emilia Wickstead worked weekends on the Ralph Lauren shop floor in London for three-and-a-half years. “It taught me how to sell,” said the designer, who is off to host a series of events with Matchesfashion.com in Los Angeles.

Guests included Ricky, David and Andrew Lauren; Cate Blanchett; Claire Foy; Lord Norman Foster and Lady Elena Foster; Louisa Guinness; Bianca Jagger; Charles Finch; Guy Ritchie; Michael Ward; Bay Garnett; Joely Richardson; Lady Kitty Spencer, and Famke Janssen.

Foster, who designed the Sackler Galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts, paid tribute to Lauren — and his U.K. sartorial roots — ahead of the premiere, saying Lauren’s style was inspired partly by the “explosion of male fashion” in London in the Sixties, “with wide shoulders, cuffs and bell-bottoms.” He reminded everyone, too, about the pioneering wide ties that launched Lauren’s career in New York.

Like Lauren, the 84-year-old Foster is still hard at work “on projects large and small.” Britain’s most famous architect is designing an aviary for the London Zoo, a rowing club in Harlem and JP Morgan’s headquarters on Park Avenue in Manhattan.

The Ralph Lauren party train ended in London on Thursday night, with the designer and his wife Ricky having attended the premiere in Paris, and family members hosting events in Moscow and Berlin earlier this week.

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