Paris's elite Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the oldest and most influential art school in the world, will receive interior renovations under the direction and funding of fashion giant Ralph Lauren.
To celebrate the billionaire designer's pledge to restore the historic building, the Lauren brand held its first ever fashion show outside the U.S., revealing its Fall 2013 collection at the Parisian Beaux Arts academy on Wednesday evening (October 9).
International fashion icons and celebrities flocked to the red carpet to celebrate the event. Notable faces included Princess Charlene of Monaco, Hong Kong actress Cherie Chung, French actress Catherine Deneuve, and British Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman.
Lauren's latest line of ready-to-wear designs featured evening gowns in rich shades of plum, forest green, deep blue, and black.
"It was the most beautiful evening wear," said Shulman, adding: "Ralph has always got this rather nostalgic feel. But somehow watching it in historical Paris, it was amazing."
The runway show was followed by an exclusive gala dinner in the softly lit Beaux Arts courtyard.
Lauren, who launched his first line of retail-- wide, european style neck ties -- in 1966, has become an internationally revered icon of aesthetic design.
"I can't think of American fashion without thinking of him," said Deneuve. "He's really at the centre of all that; he's a strong American icon. He's at the same time an icon of New York, with very sophisticated things, and then the America of the south, Texas, more sportive, chic, elegant, all that."
Lauren's love of Paris and connection to French heritage brought the designer to fund the academy's two-year restoration project, which will modernize and renovate portions of the institution.
"This kind of philanthropy, it's good. It makes people feel good, and I think it genuinely comes from the heart. You don't do these things, you don't come all the way to Paris to do an amphitheatre unless you really believe in what you're doing,"
said Suzy Menkes, Fashion Editor for the International New York Times.
With Lauren's monetary support, the academy's Amphitheatre d'Honneur; a grandiose assembly hall located at the heart of institution, will undergo renovations. In addition to architectural and aesthetic enhancements, the theatre will be updated to include a state-of-the-art audio-visual system, according to a press release.
"We needed such a global brand to fulfil our ambitions to become a global arts school again," said Director of the Beaux Arts School Nicolas Bourriaud.
The Beaux Arts Academy, founded in 1648, has seen many exceptional artists hone their craft within its walls. Renoir, Degas, Monet, and Matisse are a few of the academy's renown alumni.
Lauren's donation will ensure the academy's ability to continue its tutelage of creative minds and talents.