Out of all the designers in the world, Ralph Lauren is arguably the most impressive. Having built up an empire from a modest necktie business into a global powerhouse that includes everything from men’s and women’s clothing through to homeware – he is undoubtedly an icon.
From the moment he launched the RL brand with the iconic polo player logo in 1967 he grew quickly, establishing himself in New York’s best stores and then setting up his own boutiques in Beverly Hills and abroad within a short time frame.
Today, the fruits of his labour are shown across his impressive houses, fortune (estimated at $5.9 Billion) and his car collection. But of all of these perhaps his most impressive is the latter collection; valued at over $300M it is widely considered to be the world’s best private one and includes some of the rarest motor vehicles ever created.
His earliest purchases were a 1971 Mercedes 280SE 4.5 convertible, a 1979 Porsche 930 and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupe – kicking off what is now a 70-strong fleet of art on wheels. In Lauren’s own words (from a 2004 interview):
“I’ve always seen cars as art. Moving art. While friends of mine were into paintings, I somehow felt that the real beauty of owning a rare and magnificently designed car was the fact that you can use it. You can look at it, enjoy its visual qualities, as with a painting, but you can also get inside and drive it – which means both enjoying the drive itself and going somewhere with it.”
Although the cars are housed in a secret garage in Westchester County, New York, where they are maintained and driven regularly by Ralph and a specialist team of curators, the collection has garnered the attention of automotive and design enthusiasts all over the world. Such is the interest in these vehicles that the laudable Louvre museum in Paris even exhibited 17 of its rarest masterpieces in a four month exhibition in 2011. And in 2017 the designer even did a runway show amongst some of his most cherished (seen above)
Among the cars featured were the 1929 Bentley 4.5-liter ‘Blower’, the 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglia, the 1955 Mercedes Gullwing, the 1955 Jaguar XKD Long-Nose, and even a more modern Ferrari LaFerrari, the Italian marque’s first ever hybrid.
However without a doubt the most impressive of the exhibited motors was the prized Bugatti 57SC Atlantic from 1938, of which there were only six made and two in existence today (rough valuations for this single car put it at $50 million).
It is without any doubt that the king of style has once again proven to the world that he can excel at anything above all others – and do so with impeccable taste. Not bad for a Russian-Jewish immigrant kid from the Bronx. All hail king Ralph!