Milan has long played host to Fashion Month's more extravagant, luxurious and overtly sexy collections, and this season's show schedule has been no exception. While Versace held a surprisingly understated utilitarian show, labels like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada gravitated towards a discernible (albeit manicured) "more-is-more" aesthetic. Now, American design houses are making plays to get in on the action.
To coincide with Milan Fashion Week, Ralph Lauren opened its very first "private luxury club" — not in New York, not in Los Angeles and not even in Paris, as its spring 2016 range might have suggested — but in Milan on Saturday. Called Palazzo Ralph Lauren, the 12,000-square-foot space was built into the company's historic Milan headquarters to provide a fancy, exclusive experience to its members.
Ralph Lauren is no stranger to high-end, branded ventures (like New York's Polo Bar, which opened in Dec. 2014 and is still notoriously difficult when it comes to reservations), but this marks its debut into the members-only lifestyle arena. An in-house chef and outdoor terrace provide a swanky backdrop to the club's shopping suites, which house apparel and accessories for men and women, as well as home collections and bespoke tailoring services.
But aside from catering to Ralph Lauren's elegant clientele, what's the point of this, anyway? We would be remiss, of course, if we didn't point out how blatantly different the brand's image is from the aforementioned Italian labels who show in Milan. While Ralph Lauren remains quintessentially American with its equestrian, classic, country club-friendly styles and silhouettes, houses like, say, Versace thrive on an unabashed showiness that's largely foreign to Ralph Lauren's bread and butter.
According to a press release, the Palazzo Ralph Lauren will "host private events several times a year to highlight new collections, craftsmanship demonstrations and ongoing private appointments," making it a luxurious Italian outpost for the brand's most exclusive friends. The shopping element mixed in puts a unique spin on Ralph Lauren's favored clubhouse atmosphere — just don't get your heart set on landing a membership.