About two months ago, on our way to lunch in Georgetown, I found myself sitting on the passenger seat of a friend's car. We're stopped by a flashing red light on N Lynn Street, just steps away from Key Bridge, D.C.'s version of Pont Neuf. In my vicinity, there is a piece of art stationed right outside a local CVS (out of all places). The automobile, idly parked, bears a red candy apple colour, the top is down, and an inconspicuous Ferrari logo is deflecting the sun's rays. I was dead stopped in my tracks. The red light, high above us, is still beaming brightly, luckily. Not long after I visually scanned the sumptuous monster, a man steps out of the aforementioned store. He's looking sharp, and I immediately categorize him as European. But considering the seemingly miraculous achievements of plastic surgery and well fitting clothes, anybody can appear "European". The jury is still out. He walks to the drive's seat, pulls out the keys and hops in. And the following scenario ensues:
Me: "Hey Daddy!"
Him: *looks back* and replies, "Hey"
Me: "I love your car!"
Never mind my unapologetic, shameless flirting, I'm hollering halfway across the street. I still don't know what took over me. I pulled out my iPhone and snap! The light changes and we drive off. (I don't know if the man was the owner of the automobile, nor the fact that he dominates the English language, but it was certainly a hilarious bit).
Nobody can blame me for being turn on by these type of cars (especially Porsches). It's a natural reaction. Growing up in Lima, I could only appreciate these type of beauties through a television screen. It was a "Hollywood" thing. A life so far from mines, yet I felt a intrinsic connection. I was never an ardent automobile aficionado, but I appreciate good design in any form. Mind you, I still don't know how to change a tire or handle any type of oil leaking problems, but there is always a mechanic in reach. Allow me to make a quick parenthetical here. Why are men subjugated to hard labor and wield types of metal and women to kitchens and domestic matters? This iron age type of thinking (or lack there of) must be eradicated from minds living in today's world. Now back to regular programing.
We arrive in Georgetown a few minutes later and found precious parking space at some alley (sometimes parking in D.C. can turn into a nightmare, that's why folks choose the underground form of transportation.) As we walk around M Street, discussing where to eat, my eyes start to meander the buzzing milieu. The climate was in our favor, mild, and I guess that enticed the privileged to take their whips out for a nice ride. I spotted a couple of Porches, one who pretty much includes similar characteristics to my dream car. It was killer red, convertible and super shiny. You could've though a Hilton was cushioned in there. I later descry a Big Birdie Mazda, that could've easily played double on Transformers. And what topped the day was this caravan of canoe-like capsules of vehicles pedaling down M Street. I thought this could've been an actual competitive sport in the Olympics during the 1930's. You could only see the top of the drivers' head. Their bodies, I suppose, were positioned mummy style. It was a rather interesting twenty seconds.
As the day goes on, sitting in the restaurant, I start thinking about Ralph Lauren and his ridiculously luxurious collection of vintage cars. Then, the cover of the 2007 October issue of the now defunct Men's Vogue came to mind. In the Bruce Weber photograph, he's wearing an army green tee and bares a half grin (have you ever seen Mr. Lauren smile?), gripping the steering wheel of his 1965 Jaguar XKD, which constitutes, as the magazine calls it, "the world's greatest car collection". The cover line reads, "American Visionaries". A very apropos title in every sense of the word, if you ask me. In the brilliantly written piece titled "King of The Road", Hudson Morgan spends the day with Mr. Lauren at his Bedford, New York, estate. And is introduced to a more intimate side of his life, away from the runway. After riding with Mr. Lauren on Old Montauk Highway in his 2007 Ferrari F430 at ridiculously fast speed records, Morgan reacts with, "shock, awe and perhaps longing" after he's shown nine red vintage Ferraris ("Roman legion of mighty engineering') by the man himself. The proof is in the pudding. Although I had to cut out a quarter of a sheet for a fashion project years ago, I can still witness, clearly, Mr. Lauren ostensively sybaritic display of wealth. There is a lipstick red Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962, a silver 1995 Mercedez-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe, a Batman-worthy 2006 Bugatti Veyron (can you picture Mr. Lauren in the Bugatti Boyz vid with Diddy & Rick Ross? Major) and an bevy of other vehicles strategically positioned fittingly for an art gallery presentation.
"Maybe it's stupid of me to drive them all. But they're not precious. When I was younger it was, 'Look how fast I can go." Now it's, 'Look how well I can handle this car.'" - Ralph Lauren (image by ralphlauren.com)
As much as you might think of Mr. Lauren as an icon or having a god-like complexion, he remains grounded, humble, recognizing his gaffes. "I feel that's a failure. A failure!", he admits to Morgan, in regards to Derrick Miller of Barker Black and Alex Carlenton of Rogues Gallery, former key Polo designers. "I shouldn't have lost those guys", he adds, "Losing someone means he felt he can't grow in your company, can't make it". Although Mr. Lauren and his 11 billion company are not exempt from loosing creative types, the article portrays the man not only as a vintage car collector, or fashion tycoon, but as an American archetype. His ambitious is uncanny, "In the next 20 years, the company will have another dimension. It could be a multimedia, it could be hotels, it could be spas. It's like, what makes you? What's your home look like? What's your car?", he adds, "What can I say about myself that's not been said" How will I be perceived when I walk into that party? I have all this money--how am I gonna make myself look cool?" If being "cool" is what Mr. Lauren is concern about, then I think he has already accomplished that. On the second page, there is a black and white picture of Mr. Lauren with his two sons, David and Andrew, wearing (expectedly RL) tuxedos and they all look quite radiant (all was missing were Tom Cruise-worthy aviators). Now I'm left wondering if his wife, Ricky, calls him Ralphy.