RALPH LAUREN: The Man, the Vision, the Style

Colin McDowell, Author, McDowell Colin, Author . Rizzoli $40 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8478-2524-0

The name "Ralph Lauren" instantly conjures dashing men and refined women dressed in preppy clothing, riding horses or playing croquet. McDowell, a fashion writer for London's Sunday Times, tells the fashion giant's life story with dozens of photographs, many from the Laurens and others from Lauren's company's archive. The book covers Lauren's Bronx childhood (he was born Ralph Lifshitz and changed his name in his teens) and the path to his fashion empire, which now brings in $2 billion a year. Throughout, McDowell emphasizes the spirit of Lauren's clothing, which, he says, stands for "much of what Americans and the rest of the world consider important aspects of his country's culture and life." The text is fawning (McDowell regards Lauren as possessing a "protean genius") and comprehensive (e.g., he explains the logistics of one of Lauren's fashion shoots, on a private ranch in Hawaii, which used lion cubs and a zebra as props). The photographs of Lauren all fit the mold of the all-American hero: in one shot he's wearing a cowboy hat, riding in a jeep with his family; in another, he and his wife, Ricky, wade in the ocean, arms around each other; in yet another, the khaki-clad designer thoughtfully examines a piece of clothing alongside his colleagues. They're all oozing with preppiness and Americana, making this a fine tribute to the man who made it cool for guys to wear pink. (Feb. 1)

Reviewed on: 01/27/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 203 pages - 978-0-304-35648-5
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