and I'm back in the room!

It's as though I never left, isn't it? Found this fascinating article about RL in Vanity Fair's site and thought I'd copy it here in honour of the launch show for the Autumn/Winter range that takes place here in Glasgow on the 17th.
"Not since Walt Disney has one man persuaded so many to buy into his personal fantasy. Ralph Lauren's vision of Wasp perfection—the silver cocktail shaker without the drunken bickering, the shingled beach house without the shoreline erosion—is a $4.3 billion global business and an exquisitely detailed expression of the American Dream, free from cynicism or edge. As Lauren enters decade five as a design superpower, the author explores his re-creation of a world that never was. "
American Dreamer
by Paul Goldberger September 2007
There is no irony to Ralph Lauren. That may be the most important thing to know about him. As Lauren enters his fifth decade in business, it is increasingly clear that he makes those beautiful clothes and perfect leather chairs and voluptuous quilts not to comment on the culture but to wallow in it. The man who has built a $4.3 billion company by replicating preppy fashions, Art Deco sophistication, and Adirondack ease isn't motivated by skepticism, and, no, he isn't driven by nostalgia either. Lauren isn't trying to live in the past. He's trying to get the past to live in the present, which takes a lot more chutzpah, because to make it work you have to get other people to sign on to your fantasies. No one—well, no one since Walt Disney—has done a better job of that than Ralph Lauren.
Fashion is one of the more cynical businesses in a cynical world, which makes Lauren's long career all the more astonishing, given that he operates with the sincerity of a character in a Frank Capra movie. Lauren takes it all very, very seriously—the clothes, the furniture, the houses, the whole aura of picture-perfect Wasp life that he has developed, piece by piece, over 40 years. He figured out a long time ago that Americans, for all they may talk about diversity, don't want too much of it in their physical surroundings. They are happy to watch The Sopranos, but they want their houses to look like Leave It to Beaver. Lauren based his business on the recognition that the ideal that people carry in their heads of what life is supposed to look like hasn't changed nearly as much as the world itself has changed. He realized that you don't have to be a Republican to enjoy dressing like one.
Lauren's take on American life isn't self-consciously retro. It's not self-conscious at all, which is part of its appeal. Lauren wants to serve you America straight up. The only twist is that his version tastes better than the real thing, because he has taken out everything that would make it sour. Real Wasp life, after all, can be messy. People get drunk, they fight, they let their houses get dingy and their clothes frayed. In Lauren's world, the silver martini shaker beckons, but nobody gets soused. The house has a patina, but never a hole in the carpet. The clothes are classic, not tired. When you enter one of Ralph Lauren's stores, or even when you look at one of his magazine ads, you see the world as better than it is. But you do not see a different world. Almost every other designer's stock-in-trade is that special frisson of the new. Not so with Lauren. If he has shocked you, he has failed. When people describe things as "very Ralph Lauren," they have in mind a world of old money and relaxed style that impresses not just because it is so beautiful but because it seems at once so familiar and so effortless.
And that world is complete in itself. If you look at the windows of Lauren's stores on Madison Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side, you don't see just clothes. You see exquisitely wrought tableaux of upper-class life, stage sets made up of meticulously arranged photographs and chairs and antiques. The furnishings are so dazzling that you could almost miss the mannequins done up in the latest Lauren fashions. I suspect it's not an accident that the clothes aren't front and center. By the time you notice them, the message of the window has already registered: This is how life is supposed to be. And you know, whether or not you are willing to admit it, that you like it. These aren't just things to wear. They are elements in a bigger operation, an attempt to re-arrange the world so it looks … well, the way Ralph Lauren always thought it ought to look.
Everybody knows that Ralph Lauren grew up in the Bronx, that his name was once Lifshitz, and that he was motivated by a nose-pressed-against-the-glass love for a culture he most definitely hadn't inherited. What makes Lauren different from every other Jew with Wasp fantasies is how completely he saw Waspdom in visual terms, and how determined he was to design every bit of it, down to the last detail, and then make a living selling his fantasies to others, starting with ties and then moving on to men's wear, women's wear, accessories, perfumes, household objects, and furniture. The things that seem to have inspired him most—the movie-star aura of Fred Astaire and Cary Grant, Cedric Gibbons's classic set designs for MGM, and Slim Aarons's lavish photographs of the rich at leisure—all suggest an environment in which everything is of a piece. I think Lauren was entranced by the notion that every last detail, from the clothes to the rooms to the cars to the views, and even the people themselves, could be orchestrated to look consistent and perfect. I used to wonder why every other designer's sheets and comforters are sold at Bloomingdale's out of racks on an open floor, while Lauren's are in their own separate area with pine-paneled walls. Or why the Armani, Zegna, and Canali sections on the men's clothing floor at Saks Fifth Avenue all have crisp, modern fixtures, while the Polo Ralph Lauren section looks and feels like an English club. It's because Lauren's products promise more than just the rush of pleasure that luxurious objects provide. When you buy them, you get to enter Ralph Lauren's movie. You get a tiny slice of that whole environment from which it comes, whether it is the perfect shingled summer house by the sea, the sleek ski lodge, the western ranch, or the streamlined penthouse. Everybody loves that stuff, and whether you think of it as your birthright or as something you aspire to hardly matters.