Ralph Lauren Steps Down: 5 Times He Killed The Game

The grandfather of American fashion, Ralph Lauren, has stepped down as CEO of his eponymous brand. Stefan Larsson, a former H&M exec and the man responsible for Old Navy’s comeback, will be taking the helm at the brand. However, this is not the end of Lauren’s 50-year run with the company; as he told the New York Times, “When they start designing things I can’t understand, I’ll quit, but I don’t feel like I’m stepping back now.” While he’s moving away from the financial side of things, his polo’d and powerful presence will still loom large in the company. But with this news, we think it’s only fitting to look back at the 75 year-old designer’s legacy as a titan of all-American fashion.

Ralph & Tyson Beckford, BFF’s

While Lauren’s clothing is very proto posh, white America, that didn’t stop him from casting Tyson Beckford. After being selected as the face of the 1994 Polo Sport campaign, Beckford was catapulted into fame, quickly becoming the first black male supermodel. He modeled for the brand for five years, breaking into an industry (and brand) that was wholly lacking diversity. Lauren and Beckford’s partnership started a new narrative for black male models, and spread Lauren’s aesthetic beyond the white elite.

Tyson rendered us speechless in Lauren's 1998 underwear campaign.
Tyson rendered us speechless in Lauren’s 1998 underwear campaign.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Princess Pink Oscar Gown

If you haven’t seen Paltrow’s Oscar-winning performance in Shakespeare in Love, your missing out on some serious tearjerking. That Oscar win elevated her already super-elite status to nosebleed level – we can just imagine her now, reminiscing over Goop-worthy artisanal, Norwegian coffee beans roasted over an oakwood fire (and only served in hand crafted Chilean-mud mugs). The speech became iconic, not only because of her words, but also because of her classic pink Ralph Lauren ball gown. Her heartfelt, teary acceptance speech became a cultural footnote to the golden era of the ’90s, and the dress was just the thing to wrap it all up in. Don’t cry Gwynnie; Ralph’s still going to design!

Ralph Making His Acting Debut

Speaking of quintessential ’90s, we can’t forget about Ralph’s number-one employee and rumored ‘lover’, Rachel Green. Before Brad ever got the chance to cheat on Jennifer Aniston, her character on Friends was entangled with the silver fox himself during his cameo on the show. Their wild ride together in the elevator was the start and end of one of the most torrid fake love affairs of the century. While we all know she never really got a piece of that All-American pie, it’s still fun to dream, isn’t it?

Kanye <3’s Ralph 

Even if we weren’t already dazzled by the menswear magician, we have to admire any designer that Yeezy loves. The pink polo (with or without the mustard stain) became a staple in the rappers early career and really began rap and urban culture’s appropriation of lofty, white fashion choices. Dropping Ralph mentions in pretty much every album, Kanye’s adoration of the brand cannot be contained — just look at precious glee on his face in that picture. The musician’s discerning eye has always known one thing to be true: ‘It ain’t Ralph though.’

Pure. Unadulterated. Joy.
Pure. Unadulterated. Joy. via Ralph Lauren’s Instagram

Ralph Bring Fashion to Wimbledon
Tennis has always been a fashionable sport — those skirts are so darn cute! the all-white palette is so chic! But Ralph Lauren took tennis clothing to another level, when he took his rightful spot as the official designer of Wimbledon in 2006. Wearers of white pleated shorts on tennis courts everywhere were never the same again.  

Andy Samberg reppin Ralph Lauren's 2016 Wimbledon look.
Andy Samberg, not in Ralph Lauren.

Head image by Richard Corman. Other images via Vision Plus Mag, Observer, StyleBlazer. 

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