Iman attends the Ralph Lauren fashion show during New York Fashion Week at Bethesda Terrace on September 7, 2018 in New York City.
Photo: Rob Kim (Getty Images)

While our heads were turned by the melee at the Harper’s Bazaar party on Friday night, there was another star-studded New York Fashion Week event that went off without a hitch, honoring a fashion legend in timelessly elegant style.

Seventeen years before Tommy Hilfiger would bring his own very American aesthetic to the runway, Bronx, N.Y. native Ralph Lauren had begun redefining American sportswear and luxury, starting first with a line of men’s ties, followed by the launch of a line of menswear named “Polo” in 1968. As we know, the rest is history, defining the “preppy” look for generations to come—notably, across cultures—and now encapsulating a multibillion dollar lifestyle empire that includes several tiers of menswear, womenswear, children’s clothing, home goods and more.

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On Friday, Lauren celebrated 50 years since the launch of his empire, debuting his Fall 2018 ready-to-wear collection amongst celebrity friends dressed to the nines in what else? Ralph Lauren.

(Clockwise from top left) Kanye West, Kirsten Corley and Chance the Rapper, Tracee Ellis Ross, Iman, Bethann Hardison, Gayle King
Photo: Rob Kim (Getty Images)

“He combines the history of our country and the classic elegance of ease and sportswear into wearable clothes,” shared Tracee Ellis Ross, who was on hand at the iconic Bethesda Fountain in Central Park to celebrate alongside Robert De Niro, Priyanka Chopra, Hillary Clinton and a very camera-shy Oprah, who gave the evening’s toast by recalling how aspirational she’d found the Ralph Lauren lifestyle in her pre-fame days.

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“Back then my idea of celebrating success wasn’t to go out and get a fancy car or jewelry. It was a closet full of Ralph Lauren towels . . . they represented a sense of comfort, luxury, aspiration,” she said, raising her glass. “Your designs define an unwavering integrity, and that is why we are here tonight.”

True to his aesthetic, the runway was classic Ralph Lauren, remixing vintage Polo motifs with Americana patterns for a modern age. Cargo jackets and camouflage were shown alongside tweeds, plaids and velvet, and viewers were given a visual history of the evolution of the brand in the process. Capitalizing on his cross-cultural appeal, Lauren’s all-ages, all-races cast of models seemed to represent an American utopia currently as aspirational as anything Oprah once hoped to own.

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“He is the American dream, literally,” supermodel and mogul Iman told Vogue. “From the collections he odes on the Wild, Wild West to African safaris, it’s the American dream. He dreams it and it becomes true.”

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