Lauren, Ralph (1939—)

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Lauren, Ralph (1939—)

Bronx-born Ralph Lauren is the great dreamer of American fashion. He launched his fashion empire with wide ties (Polo Neck-wear) in 1967. By 1968 Lauren covered the menswear business, adding womenswear in 1971. Lauren builds on consistent themes: Anglophilia of stately homes and rustic luxury, including tweeds, tartans, and Fair Isle sweaters; the heroic American West, celebrating the cowboy but revering Native American crafts; the Ivy League and clubby American elite of the 1920s; Hollywood and movie stars particularly of the 1930s; and style icons, including the Duke of Windsor. The New York flagship store is a Madison Avenue mansion which feels more like an historic home than a retail establishment. Burnishing these powerful images, visualized in advertising photographed by Bruce Weber, Lauren has communicated a self-confident American style, compounded of aristocracy and adventure. Winning fame for Robert Redford's wardrobe in The Great Gatsby (1974), Lauren has given America a Gatsby imagination in apparel.

—Richard Martin

Further Reading:

Trachtenberg, Jeffrey A. Ralph Lauren, The Man behind the Mystique. Boston, Little, Brown & Company, 1988.

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Lauren, Ralph (1939—)

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