Ralph Lauren without a shadow of a doubt, is probably the world’s most prolific all-American designer.
From preppy polo shirts to Western style fringing, this revered Bronx boy has over the last fifty years helped shape the fashion aesthetic of modern America as we know it.
Beginning his career designing neckties (using the iconic ‘Polo’ name) in 1967, and culminating in his decision earlier in the year to step down as CEO of his multi-billion dollar company, the Ralph Lauren Corporation, Lauren is now hailed as one of the industry greats. And to celebrate his 76th birthday today, we’ve rounded up all the times Ralph Lauren has taught us a thing or two about style…
1. That The Cut Of A Good Suit Gives You Instant Style Game
Ralph’s talent for tailoring was first recognised back in the ’70s when he designed costumes for iconic movies The Great Gatsby, and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. The suits and separates created for both flicks demostrated Lauren’s penchant for classic cuts, and appealed to both men and women. This girl-meets-boy suiting became a signature look of Lauren’s, and is still rocked by the likes of David Beckham and Elle MacPherson to this day.
2. That You Don’t Have To Be Indiana Jones To Rock Safari Chic
Ralph Lauren started using safari shapes back in the early ’80s when he created his Africa-inspired collection, and this is a motif that has continued throughout his career. Belted jackets, long tailored shorts and all the shades of beige you could EVER imagine meant that any budding Lauren fan could take a walk on the wild side without having to leave the country. All the style, none of the nasty insect bites.
3. And That You Don’t Have To Own A Horse To Dress Like You Do
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Ralph Lauren is renowned for coining equestrian chic, specifically with his branded ‘Polo’ shirts, riding boots, tweeds and jodhpur style pants. This signature theme has always appeared in some form across both his catwalk and lifestyle collections, and meant that those of us not able to ride a horse could live this dream without ever having to step foot in a dirty paddock.
4. That Anything Bearing The Polo Logo Was The ’90s Definition Of Prepster Cool
It was like Ralph Lauren taught us HOW to turn our collars up right? And don’t get us started on the American Flag…
5. That Pink Is Completely Acceptable To Wear On The Red Carpet
Pink? On the red carpet? Before any fashion tears were wept over such a hideous clash, we witnessed Gwyneth Paltrow walking the 1999 Academy Awards carpet in a fabulous powder pink Ralph Lauren floor sweeper, and the style gods breathed a sigh of relief. And then, she won an Oscar.
6. That You Don’t Have To Live In The Wild West To Be A Modern Cowboy
Mr Lauren has always remained very loyal to his American roots, and has pioneered style with more than a healthy nod to the Old West. Fringing, cowboy boots, faded denims and soft suede can all be attached to Ralph’s designs, and he’s worked them throughout his career to meet modern audiences. Plus, it means that we can show an interest in line dancing and/or the Dixie Chicks without feeling completely naff.
Ralph’s connection with tennis is a strong one. Not only has the man designed uniforms for Wimbledon staff and linesmen, but Grand Slam champions like Venus Williams have worn his kit when playing matches. And let’s face it, tennis dresses are pretty darn cool right?
8. And Finally, That Double Denim Is ALWAYS An Option
Leave it to the man himself to blaze this trail….