Happy Birthday: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Ralph Lauren

From rags to riches

Hanane Tabet


Happy Birthday: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Ralph Lauren

Artist, designer, business mogul, philanthropist, innovator…Ralph Lauren is all this and more. The designer who built a fashion and design empire 50 years ago, became the name linked to American style with one of the longest careers for any living designer. Perfectly capturing the American spirit throughout the decades, he made the name Ralph Lauren become synonymous with status, class, and elegance.

As the iconic American designer celebrates his 81st birthday, we tell you some of the things you did not about him, as a designer but also as a man.


His childhood

Ralph Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York City, on October 14, 1939, the third of four siblings son of eastern European migrants from Belarus. It’s his brother, Jerry, who at age 16 changed their last name, not Ralph.




His fashion debuts

When he was at school, he made neckties out of torn pieces of old cloths and sold them to his classmates. In 1967, at the age of 28, backed by his brother Jerry and by Norman Hilton (his first investor), he opened his necktie store in New York.





The love of his life

Ralph Lauren met his future wife at the eye doctor's office where she was working part-time, and it was love at first sight. The couple married six months later, and have been married for 56 years. “My wife Ricky is my muse. Her personal style and natural beauty have always been my inspiration.” Said Ralph Lauren about his wife in one of his interviews. The couple has three children: Andrew, David and Dylan.







His womenswear’s muse

After receiving his first Coty Award for Menswear in 1970, Ralph Lauren launched his first womenswear collection in 1971 inspired by his wife's personal taste.




His Hollywood success

Ralph Lauren designed the men's costumes for The Great Gatsby in 1974. In 1977, he dressed Diane Keaton in an iconic suit in Woody Allen's film Annie Hall.





His car collection

The iconic American designer is a passionate collector of rare automobiles, and his jaw-dropping $350 million car collection ranges from vintage race cars to modern hypercars and includes: a 1930 Mercedes-Benz Count Trossi SSK, a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, and a McLaren F1. In 2011, a selection from his car collection was exhibited in Paris.






His honorary knighthood

Ralph Lauren became the first American fashion designer to receive the highest British honor, when he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Prince Charles in 2019. He was also awarded the prestigious Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010, in recognition of his contributions as a designer, business leader, and philanthropist.