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Ralph Celebrates His 40 Years of All-American Style with a Book as Big as His Fashion Legacy. FASHIONTRIBES FASHION & BOOK BLOG

Fashion_4 © RALPH LAUREN, Rizzoli International Publications, 2007

“…If you say something is ‘very Ralph Lauren’ you’re immediately understood.” — Audrey Hepburn at the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, NYC, February 3, 1992

Say “Ralph Lauren” & one of the following images will no doubt spring to mind:

  • all-American men and women dressed for dinner in gorgeously appointed rooms, preparing for a ride on one of the family’s show-horses, or, perhaps setting sail in an old wooden schooner
  • a rugged Western look of faded and well-worn flannels layered with calico prints, denim, thermal shirts & boots
  • the Southwest of American Indians with blanket wool coats, fringed suede, and turquoise jewelry
  • sleekly attired athletes kitted out for skiing St Moritz
  • tanned adventurers on African safari in crisp khaki & cool cottons

Whether it is a reflection of New England, the West, Native American culture, or Hollywood glamour, Ralph Lauren has codified the iconography of America into a vision all his own. “Fashion is a function of lifestyle, and style a function of quality, integrity and timelessness,” notes the now-iconic designer, who started , improbably, with a neckwear line in 1967 that helped spark the fad for wide ties and marked the beginning of the Polo label. He then went on to launch both womenswear & his polo shirts with the iconic polo player logo in 1972, continuing to parlay his design sensibility into an ever-expanding lifestyle brand which eventually ballooned to include clothing for the entire fam, home furnishings, and fragrances. 2007 marks the fortieth year of the Ralph Lauren design juggernaut, and to celebrate, he has compiled his design philosophy and process, professional evolution, and personal passions in a luxurious book of over five hundred pages, containing some seven hundred and fifty photographs and illustrations & divided into four sections: 

  1. LIVING His life & work in NYC, marriage to Ricky & family life with their three kids in the Hamptons, their island retreat in Jamaica, the RRL Ranch in Colorado, and their estate in upstate New York. “My eyes are on my life," explains Lauren. "They are my own private camera.  I extend all the experiences from my private life into my work because that is my library.”
  2. MOVIES The innovative lifestyle advertising campaigns that have been the public signature of the company for four decades - representing collaborations with star photographers like Bruce Weber (who helped establish the trademark Ralph "look"), Shelia Metzner, Michael Thompson, François Halard, Patrick Demarchelier, Deborah Turbeville, and Oberto Gili - who collectively conjured up visions of idyllic dream worlds evoking American life from the West of cowboys and ranchers; summer resorts like Newport and the Hamptons; the winter skiing mecca of Aspen, and modern life in the glittering city. “When I work on a collection I feel like I’m making a movie.  I want to tell a story, so I guess you could say I write through my clothes.”
  3. HEROINES A parade of the female icons Ralph Lauren has created since he showed his first women’s collection in 1972.  Dynamically partnered in full page spreads are the Aviatrix from 2005 paired with the Prairie Girl from 1982; the leonine Safari adventuress next to the Russian revolutionary.  Cowgirls, artists, bohemians, equestriennes, and debutantes in tartan, satin, tweeds, velvets, lamé, and leather capture the imagination with dazzling style, diversity and drama. “When I design a collection I have a character in mind.  I’ll say, ‘Who is she?  Where does she live?  What is her taste?’  I study her character and I create for her and through her.”
  4. HISTORY The book closes with a lavish array of personal mementos, news clippings, and photos detailing the history of Polo Ralph Lauren.  From the first tie collection in 1967, the 1983 debut of the Home Collection, the 1986 opening of the flagship store in the historic Rhinelander Mansion on Madison Avenue, taking the company public in 1997, to numerous CFDA awards - Lifetime Achievement Award, Womenswear Designer of the Year, Menswear Designer of the Year, Retailer of the Year, Humanitarian Leadership Award, and in June of this year, the first recipient of the CFDA American Fashion Legend Award - and the global reach of the brand which includes stores in Russia, Tokyo, London, Paris, Milan, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia. “My vision continues to be as it was in the beginning.  It hasn’t changed.  I don’t want what I created in 1967 to be old, and what I created in 2007 to be new.”


Ralph Lauren is available for pre-order (the release date is October 16, 2007) at Amazon.com.

- Lesley Scott

fashiontribes.

Fashiontribes.com

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July 2, 2007 in Books and Literature, Design, Fashion, Fashion Do's & Don'ts, Pop Culture, Trend Alert, Weblogs | Permalink

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