Oprah: Do you wear only your own clothes?

Ralph: No. But I make everything I love, so I'd say 90 percent of what I wear is mine. If I get to the point where I don't like my clothes, I'm in big trouble.

Oprah: Does your family wear only your clothes?

Ralph: They only wear my clothes—but of course, that's not a rule. You won't believe this, but when my daughter, Dylan, was younger, I'd tell her, "Go to the store and get some nice sweaters." She'd say, "Dad, I can't wear cashmere, that's too expensive!"

Oprah: Do you have a hand in creating every single product?

Ralph: Yes.

Oprah: So you even worked on my red patent-leather boots?

Ralph: Absolutely. Is every idea mine? No. I have a team of people, but their shoe meetings don't go on without me. My fun lies in making my contribution. Somewhere along the line something clicks, and you think, "Now I know why I'm working." I get that exciting and wonderful feeling when I've stretched myself to do something I've never done before.

Oprah: Having created this dynasty, how do you define what's most important to you?

Ralph: What's important to me is feeling good. I work out a lot—running. When people used to say, "Take care of your health," I'd laugh because I was a kid. I now know what it feels like to get sick, to not be connected to the world because you're in a hospital.

Oprah: Once you've had a brain tumor, does everything change?

Ralph: Yes, it's one of the scariest things you could ever live through. I was working on my show when the doctor, who'd read some X rays, said, "Ralph, you're going to have an operation." Is there anything else you least want to hear? Aside from cancer, a brain tumor is about the worst. I was only in my forties and I thought, "Where did this come from?" It was the most frightening moment of my life—and I lived with it alone. I didn't tell my kids until I was going into the hospital. I didn't tell anybody except my wife and my brother. When I came out of the hospital I got wrecked in a funny way.

Oprah: How so?

Ralph: I lost a sense of my body taking care of itself. I had a pain in my stomach when I got home, and I called the doctor right away and said, "I've got cancer in my stomach." I was in a place where I didn't feel I could control my life.


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