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Designers conjure up new look Lauren honored

WASHINGTON, June 18, (AP):  For Ralph Lauren, the American flag is not just a motif. When he uses the flag as inspiration for his designs — including his US Olympic uniforms — he believes in what that represents. The 74-year-old fashion designer was honored Tuesday by the Smithsonian Institution for his career and to mark the 200th anniversary of the original flag that inspired the writing of the national anthem. Lauren helped fund a major effort to preserve that flag. Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal “for his embodiment of the American experience” and for “supporting artistry, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship for more than five decades.” Lauren, the son of immigrants, was born Ralph Lifshitz and grew up in the Bronx, New York. He’s gone from selling ties from a drawer at the Empire State Building in 1967 to running a corporation with 25,000 employees. Lauren sat down with The Associated Press to discuss his five decades in fashion.

AP: What drew you into the world of fashion originally?
Lauren: Luck. No, you know, I never went to fashion school. I somehow was a young guy, grew up in the Bronx and ... I don’t know how I can put it together, whether it’s movies or it’s being in a world where you can read books and go to movies and dream.
Also being the youngest child in the family and getting all hand-me-downs and sort of saying, ‘Wait a minute, I want my own clothes.’ So when your parents are not able to afford the kind of clothes as a kid growing up, I had to work myself and earn my way and buy my own things. I just wanted to look like one of the guys and have the girls look at me.
AP: What does this award from the Smithsonian mean to you?
Lauren: It’s probably the greatest honor one could have. The honor is mine to give to them because I’m part of this country.


AP: What makes you passionate about the flag and the conservation of the actual flag that inspired the writing of the national anthem?
Lauren: I grew up inspired by America, inspired by the West, inspired by the Adirondacks, inspired by African-Americans, soldiers — life that I saw — the native Americans. I saw a world that was different, and I was inspired.
AP: What do you consider your career highlights?
Lauren: I started with neckties, which are a very small thing and people aren’t even wearing them today. Neckties helped start my career. When a man wore a tie, it had to make a statement.
 


They say fashion is a kind of make-believe — role-playing, if you will.
Luxury fashion designers Burberry and Tom Ford have conjured up completely different images of what makes a stylish man for their new season menswear designs. While Burberry models donned colorful hats and soft flowing scarves, and looked like bookish artists, Ford’s men were cowboys through-and-through in fitted jeans, boots and biker jackets.
The two labels were showing Tuesday for London’s menswear fashion week, which features trendy young designers alongside the British capital’s famed traditional tailoring houses.
Burberry — Britain’s most successful fashion label and leader in both men’s and women’s wear — drew a large crowd to its display, staged in a glass marquee in Hyde Park. The outfits came in arty prints and a rainbow of pretty colors, with everything from shades of turquoise and sea green to mustard, purple and pink.


Designer Christopher Bailey said the collection was inspired by antique English book covers and writers: Models carried oversized notebooks under their arms.
Bailey said he believed men enjoy fashion just as much as women.
“I think a guy shops in a slightly different way to a woman, but I think guys absolutely enjoy the aesthetic of clothes, as well as the whole idea of what fashion is,” he said.
Ford looked to Santa Fe and America’s West — where the designer spent his early years — for inspiration.
Best known for his sleek men’s suits, he said he was branching out to casual wear with jeans, sporty jackets and sneakers. The result was a collection featuring very little suiting, filled instead with suede and leather fringed jackets, cowboy boots and head-to-toe denim outfits.
Ford did not stage a catwalk, choosing rather to host editors in a private show at his London office.

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