Dream On: Bruce Weber’s “Postcards From Paradise” For Ralph Lauren

Many remember Polo Ralph Lauren for its reverie-inducing advertisements of the 1980s, a period referred to as the brand’s golden age. The ads had a dreamlike quality, and Lauren often said that he had always wanted to be an actor, and the ads were his way of making movies. They were photographed by Bruce Weber, who became famous for his collaborations with Ralph for much of the ’80s. The two were literally a dream team,  and created beautiful fantasy worlds which were completely for sale.

Since then the brand has changed the direction of much of its advertisements, but has used some of the models from the golden age upon occasion. Most recently, two models from the 1980s, Andrew Smith and Tim Easton, were used in Ralph Lauren’s ad campaign last spring.

The theme is dream-like once again and even has a title: “Postcards From Paradise.” This short movie is like a perfected version of what Lauren wanted to portray in the ’80s, when one couldn’t simply make a film and upload it onto a platform where it can be seen by anyone for free.

Though more Slim Aarons and jet-set in inspiration, there are still pockets of prep. Mostly it’s just a fantastic daydream:

While this video does some of the dreamwork for you, it still captures that essence of wonder that the original advertisements exuded. Fans of the original ads undoubtedly recognized the two models and some of the pictures seen in the background, which are framed shots from the 1980s.

This short film clearly pays homage to the ads of old, which makes me wish that some of the golden age campaigns could have been made into movies. In any case, my imagination allows for me to make films of the old ads, which I like to think was always Ralph Lauren’s intention. — GERLANDO SCIASCIA

24 Comments on "Dream On: Bruce Weber’s “Postcards From Paradise” For Ralph Lauren"

  1. Bruce Weber and Ralph Lauren can make elevator music sound good.

  2. As I said, they’re the dream team.

  3. Surprised this is the first time I am viewing this short film. Nevertheless, thank you for sharing.

  4. Thank you for reading.

  5. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | March 27, 2017 at 2:17 pm |

    Christian,

    That song is called “Stranger in Paradise” (I am familiar with the Tony Bennett version at least). Hardly “elevator music…” it’s a classic and apropos for the “paradise” theme of the ad.

    God, that’s a beautiful ad though. I’ve gotta have that life… I need to learn to walk in slow motion first.

  6. I know the song well, and told Gerlando that coincidentally I had just been playing it on the piano the day before his submission.

    It’s a fine song.

    However, the arrangement is from Mantovani or 101 Strings, recorded in the ’50s and ’60s, which became so-called “elevator music” in the ’70s for their extremely canned and bland sound.

    In the late ’90s the music received a partial reappraisal when similar genres such as tiki, mood, exotica, space-age bachelor pad and other stuff was rediscovered.

  7. Wes Montgomery’s Stranger in Paradise-you’ll dig it the most.

    The scene with the girl playing the trumpet atop the table reminds me of La Dolce Vita. There was a similar ad/movie for Peroni based on La Dolce Vita a few years ago with the same feel.

    Shit, I have to see a client in five minutes. It ain’t going to look as pretty as “Postcards”.

    Will

  8. It is Mantovani, from the ’50s I believe, and it’s easy listening which is truly a beautiful genre of music. Christian was referring to Muzak, which is light background music and essentially elevator music. But this song has those reverent strings that Mantovani was famous for, too powerful for background music but works beautifully here.

  9. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | March 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm |

    Oh I see. Okay, that’s fair. Thanks for the details on that arrangement, I didn’t know where it was from.

    For some reason, the ad reminds me of Monaco. Living there for 6 months means you don’t have to pay taxes (I guess that’s how they could afford all those nice things).

    This isn’t “preppy” per se, now is it? Or am I wrong? I get that its nautical-themed and beautiful (and Ralph Lauren), but its a little more Monaco and a little less Nantucket.

  10. Fantastic campaign, amazed I didn’t see this earlier!

    I’m partial to the original Borodin “Gliding Dance of the Maidens, Polovtsian Dance” which is what the later Wright and Forrest used as the theme. It is usually taken at a quicker tempo (as heard/seen in the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony). If I remember correctly Richard Kiley also took a more sprightly tempo, which scrapes off a layer of saccharinity.

    This is a great direction for Ralph Lauren…but based on how old the film is, I’m not so sure it was the direction taken. Interesting…

  11. Mar-a-Lago?

  12. Chewco, it feels very breezy, French Rivera espadrilles and all. Reminds me of the jet-set ’50s American tourists, probably why it’s in black and white. More trad, less preppy.

    M Arthur, one can only hope that this was shot at the Winter White House. 😉

  13. Agree on the “Polovzian Dances.” Borodin is one of my favorites.

  14. The guy in the lead pic (dinner jacket in the pool, drinking champagne) – who I believe also appears briefly on the boat toward the end of the little film – could be a very young Don Johnson.

  15. Mid-Century orchestras like Mantovani (featuring his Cascading Strings) and 101 Strings (The sound of Magnificence) strove for a “lush” sound which complimented many of the societal aspirations of the day.

    Another popular exemplar of the of this style was Jackie Gleason, whose first album alone spent an amazing 153 weeks in the Billboard Top Ten Album chart between 1953 and 1956.

  16. I picked up an old vinyl copy of Gleason’s album in the late ’90s when I was exploring lounge music. His was better than the other guys but still heavy on saccharine. Could only take that stuff in very small doses today.

  17. I thought it was Khachaturian. That would have driven me crazy.

    @Paul-I was thinking Brando.

    Will

  18. Khatchaturian has only two hits — the sabre dance and “Spartacus” — but the latter is pretty amazing for a two-hit wonder!

  19. I would say that the Masquerade Waltz was pretty good too. Alright, three hit wonder.

    I’ve loved the woman on the yacht with the dark shirt since the ’80’s.

    Will

  20. sacksuit, Brando, that’s a good call.

  21. The first version of ‘Stranger in Paradise’ that I heard was The Supremes in 1966:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxabQzcEnTk

  22. I just ran the tune through Spotify to see all the versions, and before I heard Tony Bennett, I think I may have heard this version by The Four Aces when I started listening to oldies on AM radio when a senior in high school:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HveyC6_6fM

    Still, Bennett’s is better and more definitive.

  23. As for Borodin’s greatest hits, right at the top is probably his nocturne. It was adapted as light salon music, the kind of thing that would have played during dinner on the Titanic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTPrcBAq28Q

    Since college I’ve loved his “Prince Igor” overture. Who wants to sit through five hours of Russian opera when you’ve got this lovely 10 minutes:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w3VlUwO4lk

    Also I like Symphony #2 even if it’s it’s very minor by the standards of late Romanticism.

    Interesting guy. Chemist as a day job, if I recall. Wrote music on the side.

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