This Is the First Thing Oprah Ever Splurged On
I live inside a painting. That’s what it feels like every morning when I wake up.
Everywhere I turn, I’m surrounded by beauty. A sky streaked the color of tangerines and fully blossomed peonies. A blue, sometimes gray, sometimes silver, often white-capped ocean. A palette of greens: in the grass, in the ivy climbing the garden walls. The forest of redwoods that is my front yard.
Nature’s beauty speaks to me and expands my sense of self. My being. My soul.
In my interior spaces, too, I have objects, shapes, and colors that soothe and bring me warmth and comfort. I worked, and consciously aspired, not to be rich, but to be surrounded by beautiful things.
The dream started when I was growing up in a second-floor Milwaukee flat with a two-toned green fringed bedspread that we used to cover a frayed sofa. I was always afraid to go into our tiny kitchen at night; I would stomp as loudly as I could to scurry the family of mice that made their home under the refrigerator. And pound the cabinets to make the roaches scatter. I longed for beauty.
In my own first apartment, I couldn’t afford real art, so I bought Monet posters and Degas postcards and framed them. When I couldn’t afford flowers, I’d put pinecones or apples, leaves, even stones in a bowl to bring some element of nature into my space.
And when I could, eventually, afford to splurge on something beautiful, something that gave me pleasure every time I looked at—or even thought about—it, that something was...bath towels. But not just any bath towels. Ralph Lauren bath towels. A whole entire set. When Barbara Walters first interviewed me, in Chicago in 1988, and asked if there was an extravagance I’d given myself, I was delighted to tell her all about them. After the interview, I gave her a tour of my linen closet. She didn’t seem too impressed. But I was thrilled. For a girl who grew up sharing a bath towel with two half-siblings, to have a closet of lush Ralph Lauren towels in every color, in an apartment overlooking Lake Michigan, was a beautiful thing indeed.
This year Ralph is celebrating a major anniversary—half a century in the design business—and the reason for that longevity is no mystery. Whether it’s towels, sheets, boots, or clothing, whatever he creates carries the allure of loveliness. In my opinion, he is the pinnacle.
Thank you, Ralph Lauren, for being the standard-bearer for elegance and class, and a symbol for a beautiful life, well lived.