Entertainment: Amazing life of fashion icon, Ralph Lauren - BLUE VOICE RADIO

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Entertainment: Amazing life of fashion icon, Ralph Lauren

Entertainment: Amazing life of fashion icon, Ralph Lauren

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Ralph Lauren’s announcement on September 29, 2015 that he was stepping down as the Chief Executive Officer of his fashion empire, Ralph Lauren, marked the end of one road for a designer who has sold aspirational lifestyles as much as clothing.

He, however, said he was going to remain as the executive chairman and chief creative officer of the company.

“I grew up with him and Donna Karan and Calvin Klein,” said Jay Calderin, who teaches at the School of Fashion Design in Boston, USA. “He’s been making beautiful clothes for a long time, but what he really creates is that incredible whole package.”

Calderin noted Lauren’s ability to tap into the world of privilege, pointing to the designer’s early defining moment with the polo shirt. Once a garment associated with only prep schools and country clubs, 76-year-old Lauren has designed wears that people across every sector of life around the world now wear.

“We take it for granted now. If you played polo, you wore one, but with Ralph, it became a fashion item. You wanted that polo emblem on your shirt,” Calderin said. “He made those other worlds really accessible. Equally remarkable was Lauren’s ability to produce mid- and lower-priced, mass-produced goods without diluting the brand.”

Apart from helming one of the best-known and most successful luxury brands on the planet, Ralph Lauren designs for himself. He always has. It’s what got him started in the late 1960s, when he couldn’t find the wider neckties he wanted to wear. No one was making them, so he did. Ties and shirts eventually led to seasonal head-to-toe collections, outfitting both men and women for everything from a formal evening out in the city to a yachting excursion off the New England coast to a weekend on a Western ranch.

“When I started out, people would see things I was wearing and say, ‘Can you make that for me?’” Lauren recently recalled. “I guess that was when I knew I had something different.”

But Lauren didn’t stop at clothes. Back in 1983, in the days before major fashion houses had furnishings lines, the designer launched the Ralph Lauren Home Collection, expanding his vision of a thoroughly stylish life. “I came at everything with a sense of how I would want to live,” Lauren said. “My wife, Ricky, and I were shopping for things for our apartment, and all the sheets were very feminine and covered in roses. I wondered, ‘Why can’t I get something masculine?’ So I took the Oxford cloth we were using to make shirts, turned it into bedding, and sewed buttons down the side of the pillowcases.”

This year (2015) marks the 30th anniversary of Lauren’s pioneering home collection, a line whose impact and influence have been monumental.

Lauren is definitely living out the fantasy he’s marketing, with all the trappings: a minimalist Manhattan, New York apartment, a rustic-modern Long Island beach house, a ranch in Colorado, a tropical retreat in Jamaica, and a stone manse in Bedford, New York. Each home is its own distinct vision of the good life, and each tells a different but complementary story – stories that directly shape his collections. “I think it’s the eye, the taste, and the spirit of the dream,” he said when asked what links it all together.

With an estimated net worth of $6.5bn (N1.3trn) as of October 2015, according to Forbes, it is not surprising that Lauren lives an amazing lifestyle, having grown a $50,000 (N10m) business to one making sales of $7.5bn (N1.5trn) from clothing, shoes, jewellery, home goods and fragrances.

Lauren owns one of the most valuable car collections in the world, pegged to be worth $200m (N40bn) by one expert. His most valuable is a rare Bugatti Type 57SC Antantics estimated at $40m (N8bn).

A large portion of his over 70 automobiles are held in his estate in Katonah, New York. He owns a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, two Ferrari 250 Testa Rossas, three 1996McLaren F1s (one of them an ultra-rare F1 LM), a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, a 1929 Blower Bentley, a Porsche 997 GT3 RS, a Bugatti Veyron, a 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK “Count Trossi” (aka “The Black Prince”) a 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Mille Miglia., a Lamborghini Reventón and the rare Reventón Roadster.

His cars have won “best in show” at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance multiple times. In 2005, his collection was displayed at the Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Seventeen cars from his collection were exhibited at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris in 2011.

Being one of the richest men in the world plus being a great philanthropist, Lauren also owns two private jets – a Hawker and a Gulfstream G650.

Sources: bostonglobe.com, nytimes.com, forbes.com, vanityfair.com, architecturaldigest.com, huffingtonpost.com, en.wikipedia.org, therichest.com, bornrich.com

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