logotipo de ralph lauren Lauren Bush Lauren Earns Her Place in the Spotlight
For Lauren Bush Lauren, the strikingly attractive niece of one president and the granddaughter of another, as well as the daughter in law of a legendary figure in the world of American fashion, it’s not easy to go unnoticed.
At Ralph Lauren’s fall 2013 show during the most recent New York Fashion Week, the paparazzi snapped her photo as she sat in the front row with her husband, David Lauren; her mother in law, Ricky Lauren; and media heavyweights such as Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair and David Remnick of The New Yorker.
At a recent lunch at the Standard hotel, as she dined on a chopped salad (with a side of pickles), a few patrons glanced over quizzically, as if they knew they should know her from somewhere a model? an actress? A Real Housewife? while the waiters hovered solicitously.
And in early April, at the Hale House gala honoring her mother, Sharon Bush, for her philanthropic work, a hush seemed to come over the crowd as Ms. Bush Lauren, her husband and her younger siblings, Pierce and Ashley, made their way around the room. They formed such a regal vignette that the evening’s host, the actress Patricia Clarkson, later joked onstage: “It’s a shame they’re so attractive.”
Her six year old venture, Feed Projects, which sells bags, shirts and other accessories and which has provided nearly 60 million meals, mostly to schools, through partners like Unicef and the United Nations World Food Programme is on the cusp of major expansion. And at the age of 28, nearly two years into her marriage, Ms.
On June 30, Feed’s ambitious collaboration with Target (more than 50 different pieces, priced from $3 to $400) will reach stores, with proceeds benefiting Feeding America, a charity focusing on domestic hunger relief. The collection, the aesthetic of which she described as “modern Americana,” features many categories, including bakeware, tumblers, iPad sleeves, jewelry, baby bibs, scarves and women’s clothing, like the denim shirt she had on at lunch (and which she paired with American Indian silver jewelry and, of course, Ralph Lauren pieces: a wool blazer, distressed pants and preppy oxford heels).
“She has a great eye,” her husband said in a telephone interview. “It’s an understated eye but that really understands the fashion beat.”
On top of that, he said, “she has a lot of passion and is fully committed and is always thinking of the next way of connecting” to her customers and to Feed’s beneficiaries. “She’s really doing it for the right reasons. She’s the real deal.”
While some may have expected that Ms. Bush Lauren would scale back her entrepreneurial ventures after marriage, her mother isn’t surprised that she has not.
“Lauren, growing up, she was always doing something,” Sharon Bush said in a phone interview. “Since she was small, I remember she and her sister would bead jewelry and we would show it at the craft shows. She’s always been a doer and really sticks to it, and doesn’t give up.”
Lauren Bush was born in Denver, the daughter of Sharon Smith Bush, a former schoolteacher turned philanthropist, and Neil Bush, a son of George H. W. Bush and a brother of George W. When she was 4,
she turned vegetarian after a visit to a petting zoo cum restaurant didn’t go over so well. Even at that age, she said, she had “a sort of stubbornness,” one that would carry over into adulthood as drive or focus.
Ms. Walker/Getty Images
“I believe that people obviously change over time, but you are sort of born with a sense of yourself and how you’re going to interact with the world,” she said.
When she was 7, the family moved to Houston. Her father worked in energy but was also an entrepreneur, running a start up educational software company called Ignite for about eight years. In the 1980s, Sharon founded and ran the Karitas Foundation, which provided assistance to homeless and abused children.
“We lived on a dead end street, so you knew all your neighbors and hung out together,” said Ms. Bush Lauren, who attended the exclusive Kinkaid School. “It was fun.”
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As a senior, she interned for the NBC show “Friends” and had a nonspeaking cameo with the actor David Schwimmer.
When Lauren and her siblings were growing up, her mother made sure they were aware that there were people less fortunate than them, and took them to shelters and soup kitchens. “I didn’t want them to grow up with a sense of privilege, and to be givers and not self centered,” Ms. Bush said. “So many kids in private schools almost have too much. It’s a detriment to them in the long run.”
In high school, while vacationing with her mother in New York, family friends introduced her to a modeling agent and a door opened for her. Modeling was always “very part time,” Ms. Bush Lauren said, but she loved the travel it required. When it came time for college applications, unlike many of her Kinkaid friends, who stuck close to Texas, she focused on the Northeast. In 2002, she enrolled at Princeton, where she studied anthropology.
In April 2003, her parents divorced, a messy process covered by Vanity Fair and CNN. World Food Programme, where she met Ellen Gustafson. They later would start Feed together, although Ms. Bush Lauren fashioned the Feed bag prototype (the burlap material mimics the food ration bags she saw in poor regions) while still in school.
“We didn’t even meet at the event,” she said, smiling. “We were walking out and it was raining.” The line for cars and taxis gave them time to chat. “Immediately, it was a good connection,” she said.
That bond strengthened in 2006, when she graduated and moved to New York. A year later, Ms. Bush Lauren and Ms. Gustafson started Feed out of an apartment above Benny’s Burritos in the West Village. (Ms. Gustafson left in 2010 on amicable terms, Ms. Bush Lauren said, to start 30 Project, a food policy organization.)
When Ms. Bush married Mr. Lauren in September 2011 an event covered almost like the merging of two royal families, but with the speculation of what her married name would be (Lauren Lauren?) it was a surprisingly intimate gathering (just 200 guests) at the Lauren family’s 17,000 acre Double RL ranch in Ridgway, Colo.
Ms. Bush Lauren (nicknamed “LBL” by some at her father in law’s company) limits the number of events she attends and surrounds herself with “a close group of friends; a close group of colleagues,” she said, adding that she always has her family to fall back on.
She works with her mother, who lives in Manhattan, on Teddy Share; proceeds from its teddy bear sales benefit charities focused on children’s causes. Ms. Bush Lauren regularly sees her sister, Ashley, 24, who also lives in the city and is working on a documentary film, and keeps in touch with Pierce, 27, who works for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Houston. With her father, who lives in Houston with his second wife, Maria,
she shares a love for the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” He once sent her a photo of himself grinning beside George R. R.