Ralph's Reign

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren is the most successful American fashion designer bar none. No American designer has come close to equaling his annual $5 billion revenue stream. He has succeeded in developing huge businesses with collections in men’s, women’s and children’s categories. But for many years the fashion cognoscente refused to give Ralph his due, calling him a glorified stylist and not a real designer. In fact, he out-designed virtually all of his peers, who for the most part knocked off European collections.

Ralph understood the fantasy in the American dream and translated it into a new way of dressing, first for the United States and then for the world.  He was inspired by Hollywood and was even called upon to design the clothes for Robert Evan’s and David Merrick’s The Great Gatsby. Oh there was even a little bit of Coco Chanel in his influence and he was fascinated with the style of Cary Grant.

Today, in his 71st year, he is still going strong. Ralph never ran with the fashion crowd, but after a sputtering start he built his vision into an empire. While he sometimes lived in a fantasy world, and his self-centered ego was the cause for some ridicule, it is obvious that one of those high-heeled cowboy boots he likes to wear is planted firmly on the ground.

What major designer today or fashion editor could, with the flip of a wrist, discount Ralph Lauren as “that stylist?” He is a star, a brilliant marketer and the most successful American designer of the last fifty years.