Ralph Lauren in 2013
October 14, 1939
The Bronx, New York
|Spouse(s)||Ricky Anne Loew-Beer (m. 1964)|
|Awards||Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur|
|Labels||Polo Ralph Lauren|
Ralph Lauren, pronounced LIF-schitz (born Ralph Lifshitz October 14, 1939) is an American fashion designer, philanthropist, and business executive, best known for the Ralph Lauren Corporation clothing company, a global multi-billion-dollar enterprise. He has also become well known for his collection of rare automobiles, some of which have been displayed in museum exhibits.
In 2010, Lauren was declared Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. As of September 2012, Forbes estimates his wealth at $7 billion, which makes Ralph Lauren the 191st richest person in the world.
Early life and education
Lauren attended day school followed by MTA (now known as the Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy), before eventually graduating from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1957. He has said he had had heroes such as John F. Kennedy and James Stewart, hoping to acquire a "movie star" type of personality. In MTA Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students. In a later interview about his early ambitions he referred to his Clinton yearbook, in which it stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire.
Born Ralph Lifshitz, he changed his surname to Lauren when he was 16 years old. “My given name has the word 'shit' in it,” he told Oprah Winfrey. “When I was a kid, the other kids would make a lot of fun of me. It was a tough name. That's why I decided to change it. Then people said, "Did you change your name because you don't want to be Jewish?" I said, "Absolutely not. That's not what it's about. My cousins who lived in California had changed their last name to Lawrence. So I just thought, "I'm going to pick a nice last name"—it wasn't particularly connected to anything or anyone."
He went to Baruch College where he studied business, although he dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964 he served in the United States Army and left to work briefly for Brooks Brothers as a sales assistant before leaving to become a salesman for a tie company. In 1966, when he was 26, he was inspired to design a wide, European-style necktie he had seen Douglas Fairbanks Jr wearing, but the idea was rejected by the company he worked for as not being commercially viable. He left to establish his own company working out of a drawer in the Empire State Building, taking rags and turning them into ties. He sold the ties to small shops in New York, with a major turning point when he was approached by Neiman Marcus, who bought 100 dozen (1,200).
In 1967, with the financial backing of Manhattan clothing manufacturer Norman Hilton, Lauren opened a necktie store where he also sold ties of his own design, under the label "Polo." He later received the rights to use the trademark Polo from Brooks Brothers, however Brooks Brothers managed to retain its rights to the iconic "original polo button-down collar" shirt (still produced today), in spite of Lauren's Polo trademark. In 1971, he expanded his line and opened a Polo boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the COTY Award for his menswear line. Around that same time he released a line of women's suits that were tailored in a classic men's style, which was when the first Polo emblem was seen. It was on the cuff of the women's suit. Ralph Lauren released Polo's famous short sleeve pique shirt with the Polo logo in 1972 and unveiled his first Ralph Lauren collection for women. It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic. He also gained recognition for his design after he was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie The Great Gatsby as well as for Diane Keaton's title character in the 1977 film, Annie Hall.
In 1984, he transformed the Rhinelander Mansion, former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren. This same year de Evia photographed the cover feature story for House & Garden on the Lauren home Round Hill in Jamaica, which had formerly been the home of Babe and Bill Paley. On June 11, 1997, Ralph Lauren Corporation became a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.
By 2007 Ralph Lauren had over 35 boutiques in the United States; 23 locations carried the Ralph Lauren Purple Label, including Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Boston, Charlotte, Washington DC, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Houston, Las Vegas, Manhasset, New York, Palm Beach, Palo Alto, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, Short Hills, Montreal and Troy. The Financial Times reported in January 2010 that the firm had revenues of $5 billion for fiscal year 2009.
Awards and honors
Ralph Lauren is also well known as a collector of automobiles, some of which are extremely rare. A large portion of his over 70 automobiles are held in his estate in Katonah, New York. He owns a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas, three 1996 McLaren F1s (one of them an ultra-rare F1 LM), a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, a 1929 Blower Bentley, one Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, a Porsche 997 GT3 RS, a Bugatti Veyron, a 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK "Count Trossi" (aka "The Black Prince") a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia., a Lamborghini Reventón and the rare Reventón Roadster. His cars have won "best in show" at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance multiple times. In 2005 his collection was displayed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Seventeen cars from his collection were exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris in 2011.
On December 20, 1964, he married Ricky Anne Loew-Beer in New York City. Ricky is the daughter of an Austrian Catholic mother, Margaret Vytouch, and a Jewish father, Rudolph Loew-Beer. The two met six months earlier, in an eye doctor's office where Ricky was working as a receptionist. Ralph kept it a secret from his parents that his new bride was only half Jewish and that her mother was a gentile. They have three children:
- Andrew Lauren (b. 1969) - film producer and actor.
- David Lauren (b. 1971) - Senior Vice President, Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Polo Ralph Lauren. In September 2011, he married Lauren Bush, niece of former President George W. Bush.
- Dylan Lauren (b. 1974) - owner of Dylan's Candy Bar, which claims to be the largest candy store in the world, based in New York City.
Lauren co-founded the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown University in 1989 and was a driving force behind the annual Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign which launched in 1994. In 2001, the Ralph Lauren Corporation launched the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation to support various charitable initiatives around the world, including the New York based Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention. Lauren also launced the "Pink Pony Fund", a worldwide initiative in the fight against cancer. In 2014, Lauren partnered with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to fund a new, state-of-the-art breast cancer research facility.
- "Ralph Lauren Forbes". Forbes.com. September 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
- Steven T. Katz (11 October 2010). Why Is America Different?: American Jewry on its 350th Anniversary. University Press of America. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-0-7618-4770-0. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Menkes, Suzy (May 14, 2007). "Ralph Lauren returns to his Russian roots". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- Gross (2004), p. 28
- "Selling a Dream of Elegance and the Good Life", Time (magazine), September 1, 1986. Retrieved September 15, 2009. "At DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, Lauren attended business classes but paid little attention to studies. His adolescent idols were British and American style setters: the Duke of Windsor, for example, and Katharine Hepburn."
- "DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx, New York". Retrieved 2007-07-30.
- Oprah Winfrey. O Oct. 2002: n. pag. Oprah. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren>
- "An hour with fashion designer Ralph Lauren". Charlie Rose. January 22, 1993. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- Gross (2004), p. 38
- "Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Polo/Ralph Lauren Corporation – International Directory of Company Histories". Findarticles.com. October 14, 1939. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- Winfrey, Oprah. Oct. 2002: Oprah. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren
- Lambert, Eleanor. "Ralph Lauren." 1980. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. EBSCOhost. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. <http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/ detail?sid=285adf3c-9c59-49d2-a576-6b451f1fdf68%40sessionmgr15&vid=4&bk=1&hid=25&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=brb&AN=203039587>.
- Gross (2004), 186.
- Canadeo, Anne. "Ralph Lauren". Advameg Incorporated.
- Sasha Charnin Morrison (Apr 27, 2011). Secrets of Stylists: An Insider's Guide to Styling the Stars. Chronicle Books. p. 76.
- House & Garden, October, 1984
- Domino magazine's "Editor's Pick — Babe Paley, featuring a photo of Paley at her Round Hill Villa in Jamaica online[dead link] Retrieved September 25, 2007
- Lockwood, Lisa (6 March 2014). "Ralph Lauren to Receive James Smithson Bicentennial Medal". WWD. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Wired magazine, Ralph Lauren collection
- "1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Spider". paulrussell.com. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. March 6, 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-07.
- "Forthcoming Events". lesartsdecoratifs.fr. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren" By Michael Gross p 92-93
- Gross (2004), pp. 91–93
- New York Observer: "Andrew Lauren, Son of Ralph, Worships Redford, Beatty, Welles" By Irina Aleksander April 30, 2008
- "''New York Times'' report on Ralph Lauren's brain tumor surgery". New York Times. April 16, 1987. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- Gross, Michael: Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren. Harper, New York 2003.
- Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A.: Ralph Lauren: The Man behind the Mystique. Little, Brown and Company New York 1981.
- McDowell, Colin: Ralph Lauren: The Man, The Vision, The Style. Rizzoli, New York 2002.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ralph Lauren.|
- Ralph Lauren Web Site
- Ralph Lauren at the Internet Movie Database
- Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention
- Men's Vogue profile of Ralph Lauren
- Ralph Lauren Auto Collection
- WIRED Magazine celebrates the Ralph Lauren Classic Automobile Collection But also was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1967.