Ralph Lauren celebrates 50 years with immersive installation and epic NYFW bash

Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey

Ralph Lauren and Oprah Winfrey

Ralph Lauren celebrated its 50th anniversary at New York Fashion Week on Friday night, with a star-studded affair that kicked off with an immersive installation.

Held at the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park, guests were welcomed into the venue with a journey through the brand’s history. Enormous LED screens towering like sculptures played some of the designer’s most memorable collections, while iconic campaign imagery was next projected across the walls of a tunnel. Ralph Lauren himself narrated the tale.

The show that followed saw a diverse cast of over 150 models, followed by a dinner, with guests including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Kanye West. It was more than just a fashion week show, and rather a slice of Hollywood entertainment.

The company called it “a multi-brand, multi-generational celebration of the World of Ralph Lauren and the next chapter of iconic American style”.

Chief marketing officer Jonathan Bottomley added that it was all about storytelling and the power of a story. He accordingly built the event out online too, with a strategy that spanned IGTV, WeChat, Line and live streaming, as well as via 125 digital influencers and celebrities.

That move was aiming to build on the success of last September’s show in the designer’s classic car garage, which saw over 1 billion social media impressions.

Ralph Lauren's 50th anniversary installation

Ralph Lauren’s 50th anniversary installation

For those who weren’t there in person, the digital strategy now extends in person, with the installation otherwise appearing at the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship in New York, and in additional locations worldwide in the coming weeks.

Building on the brand’s see-now-buy-now strategy, a selection of the 50th-anniversary collection has also been made available to buy immediately following the show, both online and at the brand’s flagship stores, as well as via key partners including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

In a continuing use of technology, Ralph Lauren was also awarded Design Legend of the year award by GQ magazine last week in London, for which he beamed in via hologram.

Such a move is classic from the brand. Though it has been quieter in recent times, for many years it led the way with innovative uses of technology, especially around fashion week. It has previously showcased its Polo Ralph Lauren collection via holographic water projections for instance, and used architectural mapping to bring a variety of its stores to life in an experiential way. There’s also been everything from connected fitting rooms to wearables.

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