Ralph Lauren was overcome with patriotism while picking up a prestigious award.
The legendary fashion designer received the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from Hillary Clinton yesterday. The honor was bestowed by the Smithsonian Institution for, as the museum noted, “his embodiment of the American experience through fashion, design and philanthropy; for supporting artistry, creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship for more than five decades, and for redefining for national and international audiences a style that embodies the American spirit.”
Ralph attended the ceremony with his family and arriving in the capital gave him the chance to reflect on his life, career and where he started. But as he accepted his award, he was able to overcome his emotions and make a joke about visiting the President Abraham Lincoln memorial.
“My family got together and went to dinner, where do you think we went after dinner?” he told the audience. “We went to see the Lincoln Memorial, and as I looked at it and got close to Lincoln – and I looked at the boots that were hanging over because I wanted to know if they had the Ralph Lauren label.”
Joking aside, the 74-year-old thanked his parents for their hard work to become US citizens, which gave him the opportunity to achieve everything he has in his career. His mother and father hailed from Pinsk, Belarus, with Ralph born in the US.
“Watching my mother study for the test was scary. I didn’t know what she was reading there that was so important,” he recalled about his life growing up in the Bronx. “But she did it, and my father, too. They inspired me to go to school and do all the right things that would help me in life.”
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