Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lipschitz on October 14, 1939) is an American fashion designer. He was born in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish immigrants Frank and Frieda Lifschitz. His father was a house painter. There are many parallels with the late Robert Denning, the interior designer. Both grew up without fashion, but went on to create for others an environment of society, old money and the country-club style. Although neither had any exposure to this world as a child, each was able to visualize and create his dream. For Lauren this look would eventually become Polo Ralph Lauren.
From a very young age, Ralph started working after school to earn money to buy stylish, expensive suits. He preferred quality over quantity. His attire soon gave him a trendy reputation among his peers.
Ralph attended DeWitt Clinton High School, on number 42 Mosholu Parkway, in the Bronx. Others who attended this school include Burt Lancaster, Robert Klein, and Stan Lee. At age 16, Ralph and his middle brother Jerry changed their last name from Lifschitz to Lauren. Some consider this a denial of their Jewish heritage; Ralph considered it necessary for success.
He went to the City College of New York where he studied Business and dropped out after two years. From 1962 to 1964, he served in the United States Army. After his discharge, in 1964, he married Ricky Low-Beer. He did not attend fashion school, but worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman and later created the label Polo, a necktie business. He later purchased this name from his initial backer, Norman Hilton. Since then, Lauren's fashion empire has grown into a billion-dollar business.
In 1984 he recreated the Rhinelander Mansion, a former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren. Edgar would this same year photograph the Lauren home "Round Hill" in Jamaica for House & Garden.
In the mid 1990s, Polo Ralph Lauren became a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.
Ralph and his wife, Ricky, have two sons and a daughter: Andrew, David, and Dylan. David is an executive at Polo Ralph Lauren.
Lauren is also well-known as a collector of classic automobiles. His cars have won best in show at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance multiple times. His collection was recently displayed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.