October 14, 1939
The Bronx, New York, United States
|Net worth||US$8.2 billion (March 2016)|
|Board member of||Polo Ralph Lauren
|Spouse(s)||Ricky Anne Loew-Beer (m. 1964)|
|Awards||Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur|
Ralph Lauren (pronounced LAW-ren) listen (help·info); born Ralph Lifshitz; October 1, 1939) is an American fashion designer, philanthropist, and business executive, best known for the Ralph Lauren Corporation, a global multibillion-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. As of January 2016, Forbes estimates his wealth at $5.5 billion, which makes Ralph Lauren the 235th 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.
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'.
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 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.
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, California.
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. 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 feature film Annie Hall.
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, 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, 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. The Financial Times reported in January 2010 that the firm had revenues of $5 billion for fiscal year 2009.
Awards and honors
In 2014, Lauren was awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.
Ralph Lauren is well known as a collector of automobiles, with over 70 automobiles, some being extremely rare. He owns a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa's, three 1996 McLaren F1's (one of them an ultra-rare McLaren F1 LM), a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, a 1929 Bentley 4½ Litre (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. and a rare Lamborghini 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. 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 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 launched 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.
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