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Ralph Lauren is an American clothing designer best known for his sportswear line, Polo Ralph Lauren, which is the centerpiece of his fashion empire.
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Iconic designer Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in New York City on October 14, 1939. Lauren worked in retail before developing a line of neckties. The brand he established, Polo, is now one part of an empire that includes fragrances, home furnishings and luxury clothing. Lauren has used his personal fortune to amass a collection of rare and classic cars.
"People ask how can a Jewish kid from the Bronx do preppy clothes? Does it have to do with class and money? It has to do with dreams."
Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York City, on October 14, 1939. His parents were Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Belarus. At the age of 16, Ralph and his brother Jerry changed their last name to Lauren, having been teased consistently at school. Another brother, Lenny, retained the family name.
Lauren attended Baruch College in Manhattan, where he studied business for two years. After a brief stint in the Army, Lauren took a sales job at Brooks Brothers.
In 1967, Lauren began designing men’s neckties, branding them under the name “Polo” and selling them at large department stores, including Bloomingdale’s. Lauren then expanded his designs to a full menswear line.
In 1970, Lauren was awarded the Coty Award for his menswear designs. Following this recognition, he released a line of women's suits tailored in a classic men's style. In 1972, Lauren released a short-sleeve cotton shirt in 24 colors. This design, emblazoned with the Polo logo, became the brand’s signature look. Lauren subsequently broadened his brand to include a luxury clothing line called Ralph Lauren Purple, a home-furnishing collection called Ralph Lauren Home, and a collection of fragrances. Polo currently produces clothing for men, women and children. Lauren has also designed Olympic uniforms for Team USA.
Polo expanded rapidly in the 1980s and 1990s, opening boutiques across the United States and abroad. In 1984, Lauren opened the flagship store in New York’s Rhinelander Mansion. The company went public on June 11, 1997, traded under the symbol RL.
The success of Polo has earned Lauren a personal fortune estimated at $6.5 billion. This figure, if accurate, would make Lauren the 122nd richest person in the world.
Lauren married receptionist Ricky Anne Low-Beer in New York City in 1964. He successfully concealed the fact that Ricky was only half Jewish from his parents before the wedding.
The Laurens are the parents of three children: Andrew, David and Dylan. David Lauren is the only one of the three to have made his career at Polo. In 2011 he married Lauren Bush, the niece of former President George W. Bush and the granddaughter of former President George H.W. Bush. Andrew Lauren is a film producer, while Dylan Lauren is the owner of the New York City candy store Dylan’s Candy Bar.
Lauren underwent surgery in the mid-1980s to remove a benign tumor from his brain.
Using his considerable fortune, Lauren has amassed a famous collection of rare automobiles. He has between 50 and 100 cars, including a 1930 Mercedes-Benz Count Trossi SSK known as "The Black Prince." In 2005, Lauren allowed his collection to be displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2011, a selection from his car collection was exhibited in Paris.
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Each day, we put on clothes that do more than just cover up bodies. We choose clothes that represent our personalities, our moods, the times we live in, our ambitions and our desires. Who are the people behind the designs we wear every day? These fashion designers who have made fashion a huge industry, and whose work is as controversial, and as influential, as traditional art. These are some of the designers who have dressed the world's most famous people—and are hugely famous in their own right.
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