Ralph Lauren

Daphne Stylianou

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA258

Ralph Lauren is an American fashion designer and founder of his now multibillion-dollar homonymous company. He was born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz in New York City in 1939 to Jewish immigrant parents. He grew up in the Bronx and entered college after high school to study business, but soon dropped out. After a brief stint with the U.S. army, he began to design ties, which were eventually bought by Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.

In 1968, Lauren launched the Polo Ralph Lauren label, designing menswear, and introduced his signature preppy classic style. The label received a lot of press attention and his designs were soon seen globally in the film The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford. Diane Keaton also wore his clothes in the film Annie Hall, still referenced to this day for its major fashion influence. Lauren established himself as the all-American designer, often drawing inspiration from Western clothes. The company’s horse and rider logo is widely recognized.

The company continued to rapidly expand in menswear and women’s wear, as well as fragrances and later home wares. Lauren’s creative innovation and business skills created a very powerful image for the growing empire. Remaining true to the well-loved casual preppy style, he also developed more luxurious lines of tailoring and evening wear. In his career as a prominent designer he has received numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). He has been married to his wife Ricky since 1964, with whom he has three children.

Ralph Lauren, Spring/Summer 1995. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Baird-Murray Kathleen. Vogue on Ralph Lauren . London : Quadrille Publishing, 2013.

Find in Library McDowell Colin. Ralph Lauren: The Man, the Vision, the Style . London : Cassell Illustrated, 2005.