Very Ralph, How A Brand Became My Lifestyle

This post isn’t a film overview, for that I’ll lead you to my Hampton’s publication/colleague who interviewed Susan Lacy, the documentarian. It’s about the ability in which the Ralph Lauren design went beyond the showroom and into my every day life.


Ten days passed its premiere, I finally received password access to watch the HBO Documentary “Very Ralph” about the iconic fashion designer Ralph Lauren. The film hit home to me in more ways than one. It still leaves me wondering how many other viewers feel the same indescribable association.


“Very Ralph” tells the story of a brand created off of authenticity. Ralph Lauren manages to incorporate his various interests into his countless styles; the countryside and rugged horseback, timeless elegance and luxury parties, salty air and sandy beaches, even global influence with safari style. To list the myriad of ways Ralph Lauren has seamlessly incorporated the every person into his fashion label would be an article in itself. And one I’m ill equipped to write, coming from a strictly journalistic background.

But what rings true is that Ralph Lauren is a multifaceted man without a single label of his own.

He is the man on the ranch, holding the champaign class at a Manhattan penthouse, dipping his toes into the ocean with his children, and traveling the world. He is is the very brand that he delivers. In many ways, so am I.


Around my early teens years, my mother gave me a fashion scrapbook she created. Pages and pages of magazine cutouts. Styles she admired, many of which ended up in her closet, and a lifestyle she wanted to achieve, a flippable vision board. Escada, Versace, Herve Leger, the list of high end fashion labels goes on. I’m sure Ralph Lauren was in there somewhere, but not in the prominent way it was by the time I contributed to the book.


I grew up idolizing the Ralph Lauren brand. I’m not even sure how I discovered it. As a child growing up on Long Island, I’d ask my mother to take me to Americana Manhasset after school just so I could see the mannequins and explore the store. While other girls were comparing Bonne Bell lip smackers I was designing my future closet. I was far too young to purchase anything. My family wasn’t the type to swipe credit cards at my disposal, aside from the RALPH perfume which eventually became my signature scent. So, I’d browse. I’d touch the fabrics and take note of the way the clothes were put together, how they were paired and styled. It’s a hobby that still continues to this day, only now I marvel at the RRL store in East Hampton– I’ve grown to admire vintage.



Around the same time, my mother began to take me to polo matches in Bethpage State Park and Meadowbrook Polo Club, the oldest polo club in the United States. What bored me the first few years grew into a deep admiration for the lifestyle. I wasn’t there to observe the sport of kings, I was watching the bond between horse and human. Polo opened a window into a world that was otherwise unattainable. I never owned horses nor did I take horseback riding lessons because it was out of our financial reach. But by the time I was an early teenager I was going to weekly matches June through October. I befriended the players, the announcer, and formed new friendships. I loved the horses, the athleticism and their regal nature. Down the line, in my early 20s, I began working my way up from paraphernalia sales to eventually managing the same grounds I used to spectate. It became my lifestyle. 


When The Polo Bar opened on 55th Street I immediately tried to get on the list. I called a month in advance and celebrated my 28th birthday there, dressed in a Ralph Lauren outfit. The Polo brand was suddenly part of my brand.


outside The Polo Bar

Since Long Island polo season was predominantly during the summer months, and only on Sundays, I worked two other jobs, one in Manhattan and the other in the Hamptons. In Manhattan, I worked in public relations on Park Avenue then as a luxury travel advisor at a top firm on Madison Avenue. I attended exclusive parties for champaign brands, top hotels, and beyond. When work would end, I’d find myself at invite-only tours of new locations opening up across the consumer and hospitality worlds. I’d get home at 11 PM to wake up at 6 AM and do it all over again, three to five days a week. It was invigorating.


Then, on weekends I’d travel to the Hamptons as a writer and event photographer. My media credentials gave me access to yet  another dimension that was mostly depicted in movies or read about in magazines. A-List celebrities, CEOs, world renowned designers, an outpouring of big names all in a single location, and all within my reach. Through it all, I developed a refined taste beyond my means because it all came with my job description. A write-off-passage, so to speak.


with Lauren Bush Lauren at a FEED benefit in the Hamptons

The Hamptons introduced me to Lauren Bush Lauren, Ralph Lauren’s daughter-in-law, and Donna Karan, who are featured in the documentary. Suddenly, I became two degrees of separation to a vision I admired my entire life. It brought me closer to Ralph Lauren because I became the country girl, the city girl, the beachside girl, and later the world traveler.


Beyond clothes, the documentary touches on Ralph Lauren’s passion for his family, a quality my own father lacks. Growing up, I looked to movies, other peoples fathers, or my grandfather for what a male-role model should be.


The consumer world Ralph Lauren created, from the advertisements to store decor, became safe. His priorities were not only seen but felt in his branding. It was a story I was starved for.


The film highlights his active decision to decline summer invitationals and choose quality time with loved ones instead. In a Hamptonite society of lavish gala’s and places to be seen, it is true that in my now eight years and countless events I have yet to see Ralph Lauren walking a single step and repeat. It’s admirable and it’s the way I always envisioned my future family dynamic. Perhaps I just haven’t been at the right place at the right time. Or, maybe it’s because it’s true.


The advertisements, the dream, and the persona all tie back into one thing, it’s very Ralph Lauren.


Donna Adi: Modern Day Fashion-Cartoonist

“When I’m having a bad day, I think of a pink frosted donut, or a bowl of pasta, or a crazy hamburger. Even if I’m not going to eat it, the thought of food is social and fun,”

said Donna Adi, an artist and creative director from Los Angeles.

Adi has become an Instagram and branding sensation through her use of fan art in the fashion world. In an industry that is closer associated with diets than junk food, Adi incorporates anthropomorphic food into her images. Scroll through pictures of models holding pop-art pizza melting on the plate, two ice cream sandwiches kissing, or a happy hamburger. It’s relatable and it’s a feeling that goes into each piece with the hope others feel the same sense of guilt-free joy. “It’s females in their happy space having moments for themselves,” she said.

She has been in the fashion industry for over 10 years. “This art was my break away from fashion but still incorporating it into my work. It’s very female-oriented. The fashion I choose is very much about the girl taking care of herself, enjoying her life. It’s putting together an outfit, going out for a croissant and a cup of coffee,” Adi said.

A modern-day fashion cartoonist of sorts, Adi excelled in art classes as a child but never thought to make anything of it. She studied animation and illustration during her high school years and then, at 17 years old, began a graphic T-shirt line. Eventually, her experience managing social media, photography, and an online store brought her to a serendipitous moment while vacationing in Tel Aviv. She met Galia Lahav, a couture fashion designer, and Adi used her expertise to land the designer in global stores and fashion week, in addition to rapidly growing an online presence. Eventually, a born entrepreneur, Adi wanted to do her own thing.

“The main thing that I took away from the fashion industry, which I incorporate into my work, is understanding the composition of fashion photography, what makes the photo work and how to tell a story through an image,” she said. That’s when she started illustration.

She has multiple tablets with several processes. “I take a lot of photos myself and I illustrate on them while I’m traveling. Sometimes I find a striking fashion image online that just takes my breath away and I have to draw on it. Sometimes I make a sketch and I think there’s a photo I need to make it come to life. I’ll sketch out an image. I’ll find the image of the photo that’s right for that image. And, you know, put it together. It’s like a collage,” she explained.

In the beginning, her work was created purely for fun — an intuitive outlet to be herself, an inner child at heart. Then in 2017, Colombian reggaetón singer J Balvin’s manager requested Adi do an album cover. Soon after, Nordstrom reached out for its winter campaign, Adi’s first big job. That’s when she knew she had a talent others wanted to use. “I’ve never done outreach. I think that if I had to reach out and prove myself, I’m not sure it would be as exciting as people understanding the potential of working with me, and using my work for their campaigns or commercial,” Adi said.

Celebrities are now reposting her work — Gigi Hadid, Winnie Harlow, famed fashion photographers. “At first, I was nervous, thinking maybe they don’t like my work or me trying to make something out of their photos. But it was just such a positive feeling to see that these people like what I’m doing on their images,” she said. Adi’s client list impresses with names Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Puma, Dior, Google, Skechers, Apple, Nestlé, Diesel, the list goes on.

Adi continues to grow freely in a meticulous branding industry. Her broad range of expertise is landing her creative director roles with some leading commercial names.

She brings fashion, and all others worlds, to life through a unique vision of vibrant colors and designs. Every one grows up watching animation, in one way or another, and her images seamlessly bridge together childhood and adulthood. “It’s very big in my heart. I grew up on cartoons. It’s in my style and it’s inevitable, I’ll never be able to get away from it, because I love it,” she said.

Adi is currently living in Paris, soaking in creativity at every turn. Make sure to keep up with all this visionary is doing at @donna_adi.