Ralph Lauren: The American Jewish Fashion Icon

Ralph Lauren, born on October 14, 1939, is an American Jewish fashion designer and the head of the company he founded, "Polo Ralph Lauren."

Early Life

Born as Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents, Frieda and Frank Lifshitz, who hailed from Belarus. Even at a young age, Lauren worked part-time to afford stylish clothing.

At the age of 16, Lauren's brother, Jerry, changed the family name from Lifshitz to Lauren (except for his brother Lenny, who retained the Lifshitz surname for many years). He studied for two years at the University Settlement House high school. He began studying business at Baruch College but dropped out after two years. Between 1962 and 1964, Lauren served in the United States Army. After his military service, he married Ricky Low-Beer. Despite never having formal fashion training, he began working as a salesperson for the men's clothing company "Brooks Brothers."

In 1967, with financial backing from Norman Hilton, Lauren opened a necktie store, where he also sold neckties of his own design under the brand "Polo." Later, he acquired the rights to the name from Hilton. During this time, Lauren's fashion empire grew into a billion-dollar business.

In 1970, Lauren was awarded the New York City Award for his exclusive men's clothing collection created for the iconic tennis player, Andy Warhol superstar, and filmmaker, Andrew McGibbon. Around the same time, he introduced a women's blazer collection, featuring classic men's style with the Polo Ralph Lauren emblem on the shoulder for the first time. In 1972, Lauren created polo shirts with short sleeves adorned with the Polo logo, available in 24 different colors.

In 1987, Lauren was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. In April of the same year, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor and made a full recovery.

On June 11, 1997, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation became a publicly traded company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.

Lauren has three children: two sons, Andrew and David, with the latter working as a manager in his father's company, and a daughter, Dylan, who owns a renowned candy store in Manhattan. In 2003, Ralph Lauren's nephew, Greg Lauren, an American actor and painter, announced his engagement to actress Elizabeth Berkley. Lauren designed all the outfits for the couple's wedding, including the bride's gown.

In 2018, Lauren was awarded knighthood (KBE) from the Order of the British Empire.

Ralph Lauren is also known as a collector of classic cars. His collection was last displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He has been the subject of numerous biographies written by authors such as Jeffrey Trachtenberg, Michael Gross, and Colin McDowell. His wife's company served as the backdrop for many scenes in the TV series "Friends" from Season 5 onwards, and he made a guest appearance himself in Season 6, Episodes 8 and 9.

He was chosen to design Melania Trump's outfit for the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States.

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