For a man who once claimed to "hate fashion", designer Ralph Lauren has had an exceptionally long and successful career.
The company he founded in 1967 is now one of the world's most identifiable brands, and the work it took to get there is now the subject of a new HBO documentary, "Very Ralph."
Directed by Susan Lacy, the film features interviews with a reflective Lauren who, 80 years old, is still very involved in the multibillion-dollar business that bears his name.
After reflecting on the film, Lauren told CNN in an email: "What I do is live, and the HBO documentary, directed by Susan Lacy, has captured it through various lenses for memory and observation ̵
"Very Ralph," begins streaming November 12 on HBO. Credit: Courtesy HBO
After exploring the life of actress Jane Fonda and immersing herself in the worlds of some of America's greatest artists, Lacy said she was interested in immersing herself in fashion. "I realized I had never done a fashion person," Lacy said in a telephone interview.
Who better to profile than Lauren, whose name is synonymous with the industry and whose story had not yet been told in film. "He's the most iconic American designer," Lacy said.
There is an assessment made throughout the feature film, which includes a small talk of the fashion industry's royalty, including designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, model Naomi Campbell and Vogue chief editor Anna Wintour.
"Fashion must be desirable, and Ralph sees it, understands it," Wintour says in the trailer.
Born in 1939 to Jewish immigrants from Belarus, Ralph Rueben Lifshitz changed his name to "Lauren" as a teenager to avoid the unwanted attention that came from having an unusual name. Lauren credits his artist father for passing on his creative talents, but he acknowledges that he has no skills for art. However, design is different.
After a short time in the military, Lauren worked as a tie salesman at Brooks Brothers. He soon began to make his own ribbons, sewn by hand and marked with the help of his extended family. "My mom was sitting there with a cousin of her, and they wanted to sew the labels in the necklace," says Lauren's 54-year-old wife, Ricky.
The early years were difficult. Ricky talks about sleeping on a mattress on the floor, while Lauren admits to being insecure about her work as a youngster. "Some of the criticism was very painful – maybe I think I'm good, but I'm not," he said.
"He just had style," Jerry Lauren says of his brother, Ralph. Credit: Courtesy HBO
From ties, he went on to build an empire, first tailoring for men, then women, before becoming the first fashion designer to create a home collection. Ralph Lauren became an ambitious lifestyle brand that exceeded clothing and promised to give consumers a piece of the big American dream.
Along the way, Lauren pushed boundaries within the industry, challenged conventions and set new standards. "He has always, always championed diversity," says Wintour. "It's not a sign, & # 39; let's just check this box. & # 39;"
As far back as 1996, he hired models Tyson Beckford and Naomi Campbell to promote an advertising campaign for his sportswear brand Polo Ralph Lauren.
"It was very important to have two colors in a worldwide ad campaign," Campbell said.
Ralph and Ricky Lauren fell in love with the Bronx, and built a life and an empire, together. Credit: Courtesy HBO
The ending of "Very Ralph" is not hard to guess, given the brand's lasting popularity. The Bronx boy survived the challenges of an unsteady industry to emerge at the top.
And the established label still attracts plaudits.
Ralph Lauren's last show at New York Fashion Week was staged in a ballroom called "Ralph's Club" on Wall Street. The top models posed with their precise tailoring in satin trousers among guests who had been invited to wear black and white evening attire. At the end of the show, the room resembled a jazz club when singer Janelle Monáe brought guests to her feet. "The magic of Hollywood is never that far from his runway," wrote Vog's fashion news director, Chioma Nnadi.
The documentary depicts Ralph Lauren as not only a visionary businessman, but also a dedicated and present father. Credit: Courtesy HBO
As for what viewers want to take away from "Very Ralph," Lacy said, "I don't really start with the notion of a takeaway. What I try to do in all my movies, is to connect life to work. "
Then she adds, "Takeout is, believe in yourself. Trust your gut and your instincts."