Saturday, December 27, 2008

RALPH LAUREN - American Dreamer

High fashion doesn't interest me, but if I had to identify a fashion archetype I admire, what immediately springs to mind is the style of Ralph Lauren. This is not to imply that I'm a regular Lauren customer, though I do own a couple of Lauren jackets bought at reasonable cost on E-bay, and just one acquired direct, at great anguish to the bank account.

I suppose it's not surprising that I relate to the Lauren style, it is, after all, based on classic English tailoring and fabrics. What I've found sorely missing in low to mid-priced clothes here in America is good cut, tailoring and fabric.

Heck - that sounds really "elite"and snobby - but I don't mean it that way. I just hate wearing stuff that doesn't fit properly, fabric that sags after a couple of wearings. In England the luxury of good fit and decent fabric is far more easily accessible to the Great Unwashed than it is here.

Lauren designs for both sexes, and as well as the signature English style he often incorporates western themes into his casual wear echoing farm or ranch life, and "sons of the soil". His famous "Polo" brand incorporates more sporty gear (not my thing!)

So, the astrology: Ralph Lauren. Born 14 October, 1939 in The Bronx, New York. No time of birth known, so in the chart below, set for 12 noon, Moon position is not exact, it will, though, remain in Scorpio whatever the time of birth - but ascending sign is likely to be inaccurate.

I searched various biographies of Ralph Lauren, on-line, but found they mainly concentrate on his career achievements. Those, of course, are quite extraordinary, considering he was a lad from the Bronx, a working class area of New York back in the 1940s, he enjoyed no fancy education or fashion training other than working in clothing stores. Before he'd reached middle age he'd built a veritable fashion empire. American Dream? You bet!

"People ask how can a Jewish kid from the Bronx do preppy clothes? Does it have to do with class and money? It has to do with dreams"

I wanted to get a better feel of the man though, so I dug a little deeper and found him in an interesting hour-long Charlie Rose interview from 1993, on YouTube. Interview is linked at the end of this post.

Ralph Lauren came over to me as an attractive, relaxed and charming guy, more than that though - he seems totally without affectation. The interviewer commented on this, but I had already mentally noted it long before it was mentioned. Among fashion designers a lack of affectation has to be a pretty rare characteristic, and quite endearing.

Ralph Lauren's basic astrology has already been interpreted at a blog called "Brightstarlights". I shall attempt to avoid repetition, and start looking for some extra factors.

He does embody very well the stereotypical Libran charm and good looks. I wondered where all that Scorpio-ness in the chart would fit in, and how the Grand Cross manifests in his life, and where is the usual Grand Trine in Earth found in charts of many War Babies like him (Lennon, and me, for example).

A potential Grand Trine in Earth in Lauren's chart is missing a planet at one point, the trine between Neptune and Uranus is clear enough, but at the third point lies the Part of Fortune in Capricorn. While this is symbolically very appropriate, being the sign of business, I'm not sure that Part of Fortune, which is a mathematically derived point in the chart, is a legitimate inclusion in a Grand Trine - but if it is, then so much the the better.

The Grand Cross, though is clear enough. Two oppositions and four square aspects. Dynamic tension involving Venus (the arts, including design), Saturn (career and business), Mars (energy) & Pluto (intensity) - perhaps this is the engine room of his working life then. The planets in the configuration are in Fixed signs (apart from Saturn, just one degree shy of Taurus, still within limits though). The Fixed quality reflects his loyalty to his original dream of bringing classic timeless English style to America. This was no fly-by-night gimmick he used to make a name for himself, it is etched into his personality, and his dreams. He says as much in the interview linked below.
He also comments on how he is constantly amazed by the "contrasts" in his lifestory - how he came so far in his chosen career, from such humble beginnings, how his choice of style is so foreign to his early background, "impossible things" he calls them. This feeling connects to the oppositions, I suspect.

One more point from the interview. He was asked about his brain tumor, discovered back in 1987, which fortunately turned out to be benign. I checked a further news article to discover the date of his operation, Monday 13 April 1987 - Pluto transited at 9 Scorpio, very close to his natal Mercury, Venus and, probably, Moon. He said that the experience did transform(Pluto) his attitude to life, he said that it's not always easy to fully appreciate something until you almost lose it.

A snippet from my searches which particularly appealed to me was at a right-wing blog which shall remain nameless. The writer and others felt incensed that Ralph Lauren is said to have stated that he has not been proud of America during the past years of the Bush administration. He does, however, have faith in Barack Obama to turn things around. The blogger and some of her commenters vowed never to buy his product again. I, conversely, shall strive to do so - if only via E-bay or, on a very lucky day, @ Goodwill.

Quote from Ralph Lauren
“It's the kind of clothes that mothers and daughters can wear, in terms of concept, ... It's not about age. It's about taste, and it's about lifestyle. I believe women of all ages can wear anything.”

Link to 1993 interview with Charlie Rose.


Rossa said...

I'm totally in tune with you on this one. I've been an M&S girl for years only because there aren't many shops selling trousers for long legged women. Dresses have always been a no no cos the waist was up under my bust...not empire line, just supposed to be on my waist, ha ha! So separates were all I could find and then touch and go.

Also the big bumpers at the front don't help. Built for comfort not for speed! Most of the outsize outlets fitted on the bust but I ended up looking like an elephant in a tent..not the most seductive look on the planet....LOL

Then along came Bravissimo. Originally just for underwear, but then brought out a range of clothing designed to fit the larger busted lady who still wanted something fitted. Wow, at last, I can have curves without gapping or acres of material flapping around. The "smock" look just is not me!

Like everything else it can take a few years to get into a "style" and know what suits and what does not...still got a few mistakes in the wardrobe but not so many these days.

Not sure many designers are for size 16+ (UK), though I can always dream. Which is amazing considering the average size in the UK now is a size 16.

Wisewebwoman said...

Have you tried Liz Claiborne? I too am large busted and find her designs classical and shapely.
Like Rossa, I find Lauren caters to a different body structure than mine. ah me.
Interesting man though.

Twilight said...

Hi Rossa~~~
Oh I miss Marks and Spencer almost more than anything else - their foodstuffs, as well as their clothing products. They went through a period of doldrums fashion-wise, but last time I visited the UK in 2005 they had a wonderful snazzy collection of clothing.

I'm around average size-wise, so there really shouldn't be a problem, but there is. Perhaps Brits and Americans are just built differently.

I envy you your!

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ At one time I loved Liz Claiborne's stuff. When the label first appeared in the UK, I bought quite a few super pieces, but I think the firm must have been taken over because all of a sudden things changed, now I can't find anything to suit, at least on this side of the pond.

Yes, I understand that Lauren isn't everyone's cup o' tea. He caters to a group of which I'm right on the's as much the spirit of the clothes I love, as anything. :-)