Ralph Lauren: Paris’ American dream

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

I had been meaning to go for days, hearing about it and reading about it: the new Ralph Lauren flagship store in Saint-Germain des Prés. I’d walked by a few days before the opening, seen a very last bunch of workers milling about late in the evening, and made a mental note to return. And then I did, and let me just say this: I’ve fallen in love. Not so much with the clothes, or even with the handbags (and God knows handbags can make my heart skip a little). But with the place. This is more than a store. It’s a story.

Ralph Lauren in Saint-Germain des Prés – initially, the idea sounds like a collision of worlds. An American giant in this most Parisian of neighborhoods. This is the land of the Café de Flore, of the city’s best bookstores, of antique jewelers and art galleries. The hangout of Sartre and Beauvoir, Albert Camus and André Gide and, if we must include an American, Hemingway. Though this intellectual vibe remains, it has been giving way, year after year, to fashion and retail – to the great despair of locals and old-timers. Here Paris fashion mistress Sonia Rykiel, who came to the neighborhood in 1968, reigns supreme. Well today Ralph Lauren plants the American flag squarely next door – staking his claim in an 18th century townhouse – and somehow, it works.

The magic operated as soon as I walked into the beautiful courtyard.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

Where am I already? Is this Paris or is this Provence – or wait, am I in Montauk? The ground floor has been converted into a restaurant called Ralph’s – and no detail has been spared to make it look, and feel, like the terrace of a luxury vacation home.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

The fluffy pillows, the crisp blue and white cotton – don’t they make you feel like sitting down for a Long Island iced tea? This will clearly be the place to be this spring and summer. Fact is, the terrace is already booked for the next couple of weeks.

Inside, the restaurant has a much more wintry feel – and strong equestrian theme.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

And just like the décor, the menu is typically American – with classics like Maine lobster, Maryland crab cakes, Caesar salad, burgers and steaks, with meat flown in directly from Ralph Lauren’s Colorado ranch.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

The store itself is huge – six floors of men’s wear, women’s wear, accessories, and jeans. The whole building has been painstakingly renovated, and everywhere you look, it is beautiful – full of rustic details that tell an all-American tale of success. Like a walk through someone’s cottage.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

On the last floor, amid a Western theme and rugged jeans, a few books are displayed, including Bruce Weber’s All-American photo series. I had to tear myself away from a beautiful book of prints by Disfarmer – an Arkansas photographer who immortalized rural America in the early 20th century.

Ralph Lauren CheckYourParis

That’s really the story Ralph Lauren is telling with this store – the legend of this country, the roots and traditions it slowly built for itself, and the disappearing world of gentlemen ranchers. In the middle of Paris, it’s exotic as all hell.

Footnotes –

Ralph Lauren, 173 boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th.

Ralph’s is open for lunch, afternoon coffee or drinks, and dinner. Main dishes around 25 euros. Dress code: Hamptons chic. Book well in advance… +331 44 77 76 00.

2 Responses to “Ralph Lauren: Paris’ American dream”
  1. I love the concept of making it a type of home, a restaurant and a store. Your pictures are perfect! Thanks for sharing. It looks like a lovely locale and I most certainly will keep it on my list. =) I especially love the outdoor area.

    • Loulou says:

      Simply Luxurious: thanks a lot! The concept really is lovely – you could spend hours in there!

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