As a new documentary is dedicated to his life, here’s how Ralph Lauren became a fashion giant

As a new documentary is dedicated to his life, here’s how Ralph Lauren became a fashion giant

Even if you’re not clued up on the world of fashion, you’ll know about Ralph Lauren. It’s hard to avoid the power of this American brand, with its instantly recognisable logo of a man playing polo.

Now, the eponymous man who created this fashion empire is going to have an in-depth documentary dedicated to his life. Called Very Ralph, it tracks Lauren’s beginnings from the Bronx in New York to creating a global brand synonymous with the American dream. The doc is set to be a revealing one, with interviews from important people across Lauren’s career including the late Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Hillary Clinton and Naomi Campbell.

The film comes out on November 12 on HBO, but it will be immediately available to watch globally too. It’s high time such a big project is dedicated to Lauren, as the 79-year-old has had a huge impact on fashion throughout his decades-long career.

Here’s how the Ralph Lauren brand has evolved over the years.

Beginnings in the Bronx…

Born in the Bronx to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants, Lauren briefly served in the US army before starting work in the fashion industry. When he was 28 he started designing ties, calling the label ‘Polo’ as a tribute to his love of sports.

This really set the tone for his designs, which are known for their preppy, sporty vibes. It was only a few years later, in 1971, that he first introduced the pony logo, which is now emblazoned on t-shirts all over the world.

The Prince of Wales presenting Ralph Lauren with his honorary KBE for services to fashion in June (Victoria Jones/PA)
The Prince of Wales presenting Ralph Lauren with his honorary KBE for services to fashion in June (Victoria Jones/PA)

Lauren created a new kind of uniform for young men: crisp shirts, blazers and polo T-shirts. He gained a cult following, and became synonymous with the American dream as the son of immigrants who made it in the US to become a household name.

Since his beginnings, Lauren’s style hasn’t really changed much. His designs always have a nostalgic feel to them, and even though he’s modernised the brand they often feel like a nod to the past. In 2019, he’s just as obsessed with outfits you can wear to the polo as ever.

High fashion designs…

Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Ralph Lauren in 1999 (Peter Jordan/PA)
Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Ralph Lauren in 1999 (Peter Jordan/PA)

Lauren didn’t just dress young preppy men at Ivy League universities. He also became a well-respected high fashion designer, known for his sleek and elegant gowns. He has dressed stars like Princess Diana, Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet, and regularly shows his collections at New York Fashion Week.

Lauren’s place in the fashion hall of fame was confirmed in 1992, when he was the first ever recipient of the prestigious CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by Audrey Hepburn. When it comes to red carpet outfits, Lauren’s style is simple and voluminous – just look at one of his most famous designs: the iconic pale pink dress worn by Gwyneth Paltrow in 1999 when she won her Oscar.

Lauren often designs gowns for the Met Gala, dressing celebs like Lily Aldridge and Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Ian West/PA)
Lauren often designs gowns for the Met Gala, dressing celebs like Lily Aldridge and Rosie Huntington-Whitely (Ian West/PA)

Lauren’s influence is by no means waning – last year he celebrated his 50 year anniversary with a star-studded, opulent catwalk show, and since then he has designed Priyanka Chopra’s wedding dress.

Expanding the empire…

Ralph Lauren’s outfits are all over Wimbledon (Steven Paston/PA)
Ralph Lauren’s outfits are all over Wimbledon (Steven Paston/PA)

Ralph Lauren is more than just a clothing line, it’s a full-blown lifestyle brand. There are various Ralph Lauren restaurants and cafes, as well as a hugely successful homeware line.

The brand also has a huge presence in the sporting world: Lauren is regularly called upon to design uniforms for the USA’s Olympic team, and he also outfits all the ball boys, girls and umpires at Wimbledon.

- Press Association

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