Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
The Smithsonian honored designer Ralph Lauren with the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal at a citizenship ceremony at the National Museum of American History yesterday and the scene could not have been more patriotic: Hillary Clinton stood resplendent in a custom cobalt blue Ralph Lauren silk suit, Ralph Lauren reflected on his childhood growing up in the Bronx with immigrant parents, and 15 brand new U.S. citizens waved tiny American flags. Everyone took home flag-emblazoned Ralph Lauren baseball caps.
Lauren was recognized for both his contributions to American design and entrepreneurship, and his support in preserving the Star-Spangled Banner, which is displayed at the National Museum of American History. It's this project that united Clinton and Lauren in 1998, when the First Lady headed up the "Save America's Treasures" program to help conserve the Star-Spangled Banner. Lauren donated $10 million to help restore the flag and $3 million for the historic preservation program.
"Ralph responded to the call. He didn't have to. Or he could've made a token contribution. But he understood because it was deep within him that part of being an American is giving back," Clinton said in her keynote address at the ceremony.
Hillary and Ralph are joined by Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough.
Lauren was obviously moved by the ceremony. "I've always been inspired by America, but I never thought I'd get an award for it," he said in his remarks. "When I got involved with the flag, it was because I believed that it was the right thing for me to do." He addressed the 15 new Americans, saying, "You're very lucky to be here. I started with nothing but good parents, a good family… But the opportunities that I had… to go ahead with what's right, with something that came from the heart, something where I could use my talent. America gave me that opportunity."
It sure sounds like Clinton has Lauren's vote. He told WWD, "If ever there was a woman who should be president, I believe it's Hillary. She is capable and has the experience. And so, whatever she decides, I am happy for her, as a woman and a person who has done so much for our country."
As for Clinton, she had a packed Tuesday of honoring fashion designers with awards. Yesterday evening at the Kennedy Center, she spoke at the Vital Voices Global Leadership Awards, whose honorees included Diane von Furstenberg.
· Ralph Lauren Receives Bicentennial Medal [WWD]
· Ralph Lauren, Designer of The American Dream, Honored by The Smithsonian [WaPo]
· Vital Voices Honored at Kennedy Center [Georgetown Dish]
· Ralph Lauren Does Sexy College Grunge for 1st Polo Ladies Line [Racked]
· Hillary Clinton Awards Ralph Lauren for Helping the 200-Year-Old Star-Spangled Banner See Another 200 Year [Smithsonian]