With more than 50 years in the business, fashion designer Ralph Lauren has established himself as an industry leader. He is he epitome of the American Dream, proving that if you work hard enough you can achieve your goals.
Inspired by the American lifestyle he rapidly found a niche and created his own signature style. “When I started out, everyone in the fashion world seemed to look toward Europe for newness and real fashion. I was always inspired by America,” he explains.
In 1967, with no formal design training, he launched his brand opening a tie shop. Four years later and he had advanced into the women’s market. From there his career escalated, going beyond just a fashion label and becoming a well-rounded brand. “We don’t only sell clothes,” Lauren once explained, “we are selling a dream and a vision.” As such his empire also includes Ralph Lauren Home, Polo Ralph Lauren and Polo Sport. However, more than just a mega entrepreneur, Lauren, along with his wife Ricky, is also an ardent philanthropist founding various charitable initiatives, including The Pink Pony Campaign that raises money to fight cancer worldwide.
As Ralph Lauren turns 81 today, we honor the designer and look back at some of the most seminal Ralph Lauren moments.
The Launch of Polo Ralph Lauren
Aiming to sell the American Dream, the label included sportswear and tailored clothing that made everyday wear more sophisticated, creating a picture of a lifestyle and that every American aspired to.
You know you’ve made it when Hollywood comes knocking at your door. Not only did he dress a dapper Robert Redford in 1974’s The Great Gatsby, but he also made a style icon out of Diane Keaton by supplying pieces for the actor in Woody Allen’s 1977 Annie Hall. The Annie Hall look gave way to Ralph Lauren being one of the go-to designers of women’s suits and tailoring.
First Lady Michelle Obama wore his dress when she met Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Middleton is a huge fan, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wore Ralph Lauren power suits during her campaign, however the biggest internet stir was caused when Meghan Markle wore a olive green dress to Prince Louis’s christening.
Dressing Power Couples
Lauren dressed both Priyanka Chopra and her husband Nick Jonas for their wedding day. “For the Western wedding, we had been talking to a bunch of incredible designers, but ultimately when Ralph Lauren approached us, I learned that Ralph has only designed three wedding dresses in 50 years — one for his daughter, his daughter-in-law, and his niece. I was blown away,” said Chopra. “We were both wearing Ralph Lauren! And we decided to go together because it was fun,”
Half A Century In Business
In September 2018, Ralph Lauren was the king of New York Fashion Week when he put on an extravagant runway show, featuring 150 models of all ages, including Kaia Gerber and Gigi Hadid. The show was the perfect celebration of his company’s 50th anniversary. Afterwards the party continued with a star studded bash with A-list guests including Oprah Winfrey, Pierce Brosnan.
In recognition of his global contributions as a designer, business leader, and philanthropist, Lauren was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a title bestowed on him by Queen Elizabeth II. He also received the rank of Officier in the Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest French order of merit, presented by President of France Emmanuel Macron.