Ralph Lauren

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For the company, see Ralph Lauren Corporation.
Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren 2013.jpg
Ralph Lauren
Born Ralph Lifshitz
(1939-10-14) October 14, 1939 (age 76)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Nationality American
Education Baruch College
Net worth IncreaseUS$8.2 billion (March 2016)[1]
Board member of Polo Ralph Lauren
Rugby Ralph Lauren
Club Monaco
Spouse(s) Ricky Anne Loew-Beer (m. 1964)
Children 3
Awards Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur

Ralph Lauren (/ˈlɔːrən/ About this sound listen ; 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. Lauren stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of the company in September 2015 but remains its Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer.[2] As of January 2015, Forbes estimates his wealth at $8 billion, which makes Ralph Lauren the 155th richest person in the world.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Ralph Lauren was born in the Bronx, New York City,[4] to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, Fraydl (née Kotlar) and Frank Lifshitz, a house painter,[5] from Pinsk, Belarus.[6]

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.[7][8] He has said he had had heroes such as John F. Kennedy and James Stewart, hoping to acquire a "movie star" type of personality.[9] 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[10] his Clinton yearbook, in which it stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire.[11]

He chose to change his last name to Lauren. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Polo Ralph Lauren representative wrote that the correct pronunciation is as in the first name 'Lauren', and not as in the last name 'Loren'.[12]


He went to Baruch College where he studied business, although he dropped out after two years.[citation needed] 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 for which he worked 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 1,200.[13]

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".[14] 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, California.[15]

The Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store occupying the Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo House on Madison Avenue in New York City

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. This was the first time the Polo emblem was seen, displayed on the cuff of the 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.[16] It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic.[17] He also gained recognition for his design after he was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie The Great Gatsby[18] as well as for Diane Keaton's title character in the 1977 feature film Annie Hall.[19]

A Polo Ralph Lauren store on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago

In 1984, he transformed the Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo House, 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,[20] which had formerly been the home of Babe and Bill Paley.[21] 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, D.C., 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.[citation needed] The Financial Times reported in January 2010 that the firm had revenues of $5 billion for fiscal year 2009.

On September 29, 2015, Ralph Lauren announced that he would be stepping down as Chief Executive, to be replaced by Stefan Larsson, the President of Gap's Old Navy chain.[22]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2010, Lauren was declared Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

In 2014, Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.[23]

Automobile collection[edit]

Ralph Lauren with his Porsche GT3 RS (2010)

Ralph Lauren is also well known as a collector of automobiles,[24] 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.,[25] a Lamborghini Reventón and the rare Reventón Roadster. His cars have won "Best in Show" at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance twice, his 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic won in 1990 and his 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK "Count Trossi" roadster won in 1993. In 2005 his collection was displayed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.[26] Seventeen cars from his collection were exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris in 2011.[27]

Personal life[edit]

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.[28] The two met six months earlier, in an eye doctor's office where Ricky was working as a receptionist.[29] Ralph kept it a secret from his parents that his new bride was only half Jewish and that her mother was a gentile.[28] They have three children:

In early 1987, Ralph Lauren was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. In April 1987 he underwent surgery to remove the tumor and made a full recovery.[31]


" I hate when people call me philanthropic because I see it as more coming from the heart"

—Ralph Lauren, May 2014[32]

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 launched the Pink Pony Fund, a worldwide initiative in the fight against cancer.[33] In 2014, Lauren partnered with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to fund a new, state-of-the-art breast cancer research facility.[32][34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ralph Lauren". celebritynetworth.com. 
  2. ^ http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2015/09/30/ralph-lauren-steps-down-as-ceo-of-his-company
  3. ^ "Ralph Lauren Forbes". Forbes.com. January 2015. Retrieved January 7, 2015. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Gross (2004), p. 28
  6. ^ Menkes, Suzy (May 14, 2007). "Ralph Lauren returns to his Russian roots". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  7. ^ "Selling a Dream of Elegance and the Good Life", Time, 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."
  8. ^ "DeWitt Clinton High School, Bronx, New York". Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  9. ^ Winfrey, Oprah (October 2002). Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren. O, The Oprah Magazine. (Interview). Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  10. ^ Rose, Charlie (January 22, 1993). An hour with fashion designer Ralph Lauren. Charlie Rose. (Interview). Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  11. ^ Gross (2004), p. 38
  12. ^ Price, Lori (2007-10-15). "Fashioning right syllables". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  13. ^ "Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren". Oprah.com. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  14. ^ "Polo/Ralph Lauren Corporation – International Directory of Company Histories". Findarticles.com. October 14, 1939. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  15. ^ Winfrey, Oprah. Oct. 2002: Oprah. Web. 12 Dec. 2012. Oprah Interviews Ralph Lauren
  16. ^ Lambert, Eleanor (1980). "Ralph Lauren". EBSCOhost.com. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  17. ^ Gross (2004), p. 186.
  18. ^ Canadeo, Anne. "Ralph Lauren". Advameg Incorporated. 
  19. ^ Sasha Charnin Morrison (April 27, 2011). Secrets of Stylists: An Insider's Guide to Styling the Stars. Chronicle Books. p. 76. 
  20. ^ House & Garden, October, 1984
  21. ^ Domino magazine's "Editor's Pick — Babe Paley, featuring a photo of Paley at her Round Hill Villa in Jamaica online Retrieved September 25, 2007 Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ "Ralph Lauren steps down as CEO of his fashion firm". CNBC. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  23. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (6 March 2014). "Ralph Lauren to Receive James Smithson Bicentennial Medal". WWD. Retrieved 6 March 2014. 
  24. ^ Wired magazine, Ralph Lauren collection
  25. ^ "1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia Spider". paulrussell.com. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  26. ^ "Speed, Style, and Beauty: Cars from the Ralph Lauren Collection". Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. March 6, 2005. Retrieved 2010-04-07. 
  27. ^ "Forthcoming Events". lesartsdecoratifs.fr. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  28. ^ a b "Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren" By Michael Gross p 92-93
  29. ^ Gross (2004), pp. 91–93
  30. ^ New York Observer: "Andrew Lauren, Son of Ralph, Worships Redford, Beatty, Welles" By Irina Aleksander April 30, 2008
  31. ^ "''New York Times'' report on Ralph Lauren's brain tumor surgery". New York Times. April 16, 1987. Retrieved 2011-05-01. 
  32. ^ a b Royce-Greensill, Sarah (May 13, 2014). "Ralph Lauren partners with The Royal Marsden". Telegraph. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  33. ^ "Pink Pony Fund". RalphLauren.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  34. ^ Brett, Gillian (May 16, 2014). "Things We Never Knew About…Ralph Lauren". ElleUK.com. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.

External links[edit]