There’s never been a better time to curl up on the couch in front of a classic film—and there’s perhaps no designer who’s drawn more inspiration from Hollywood classics than Ralph Lauren. With that in mind, here’s a selection of the films that, over the past five decades, have helped inspire the World of Ralph Lauren. We hope they inspire your own quest for a bit of escape as we’re all hunkered down at home.
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart
Ralph Lauren has a deep reverence for Hollywood’s Golden Age, and this film is a gem of the era, often considered one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time, and with a dream cast of Ralph Lauren favorites. Don’t miss the 1956 musical remake, High Society, with more RL favorites, including Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra.
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden
This charming Billy Wilder comedy won the Oscar for Best Costume Design, and Ralph’s longtime muse Audrey Hepburn is as charming and refined as ever in her black cocktail dress. Bogie and William Holden hold their own in elegant tuxedos, which help paint a portrait of life in Paris, as romantic as that in a Ralph Lauren Runway Show.
REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
Starring: James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo
“When I’d go to the movies, it was as if a window opened up to a world I had never dreamed of and I walked right in,” Ralph has said. It’s safe to say many moviegoers felt that way about Rebel, which is one of a few films that changed the very core of American consciousness—portraying both the energy and alienation of the then-burgeoning rock ’n’ roll generation. And James Dean’s red jacket went on to become one of the most famous pieces of clothing in movie history.
TO CATCH A THIEF (1955)
Starring: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly
This Hitchcock thriller offers both definitive proof of what a well-dressed man can get away with and a masterclass in easy, Mediterranean style, in the form of Cary Grant’s cat burglar, John Robie.
Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina (1954)
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard
Audrey Hepburn occupies a prominent spot in Ralph Lauren’s personal pantheon of Hollywood heroines, so it was only fitting that she would present Mr. Lauren with the first-ever CFDA Lifetime Achievement award, in 1992. In the film version of Truman Capote’s novella, she is a vision of glamour and charm, strutting down Fifth Avenue in the film’s iconic opening sequence.
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968)
Starring: Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway
The Thomas Crown Affair arguably created the action genre, with Steve McQueen playing a millionaire robber with a taste for fine tailoring. Perhaps most notably for this list, however, is that the movie is anchored by a high-drama scene depicting a polo match.
EASY RIDER (1969)
Starring: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson
The open skies and open roads of the West are a key part of the Ralph Lauren dream, and no film embodies those things quite like Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider, which helped redefine the West for a new generation.
LOVE STORY (1970)
Starring: Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, and John Marley
“When I was a young man going to college, I always loved the Ivy League look, its ease and tradition,” Ralph Lauren once said. This movie, set mostly at Harvard, captures that look on celluloid—a preppy smorgasbord of tennis sweaters, tartan scarves, and tweed jackets.
Robert Redford, in a suit by Ralph Lauren, as the title character in The Great Gatsby (1974)
THE GREAT GATSBY (1974)
Starring: Robert Redford and Mia Farrow
Ralph Lauren has listed F. Scott Fitzgerald on the very short list of heroes who have inspired him, so he was a natural to design the suits (including a custom pink one worn by Robert Redford) in this ultrastylish adaptation. The wardrobe earned a cover shot from Newsweek, and the “Gatsby look” became an indelible part of the era’s style.
ANNIE HALL (1977)
Starring: Diane Keaton and Woody Allen
This movie has a special place in the Ralph Lauren universe, as Oscar winner Diane Keaton earned her only Best Actress Oscar while dressed in menswear from Polo. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and inspired countless magazine stories about the “Annie Hall look.”
CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)
Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, and Nicholas Farrell
This film, about two runners training for the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, deftly captures the spirit of sporting competition that has long inspired the World of Ralph Lauren—and several Polo collections over the years.
Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, and Edward Hermann
An epic in every sense of the word, Reds tells the moving story of writers swept up by world events around the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Beatty became the third person, after Orson Welles and Woody Allen, to be nominated for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay for a Best Picture nominee.
OUT OF AFRICA (1985)
Starring: Meryl Streep and Robert Redford
“Africa was a dream I would return to many times,” Ralph Lauren has said, “but the image of the girl in the straw hat is the spirit of the woman that travels in all my dreams. … She has a beauty that comes from an inner confidence. The clothes have no age, no time—like her.” Ralph was referring to a look from his Spring 1984 safari Collection, but he could very well have been talking about Meryl Streep, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in this film, which came out one year later.
DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)
Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, and Ethan Hawke
Peter Weir’s 1989 classic embodies Ralph Lauren’s longtime love of preppy style, as well as his belief in the power of creativity and individuality, captured in the moment Robin Williams hops atop his desk to recite Walt Whitman’s stirring poem “O Captain! My Captain!”
DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, and Graham Greene
Reinventing the classics is a signature Ralph Lauren move, and that’s exactly what Kevin Costner did with his romantic, revisionist Western, an unexpected blockbuster that earned seven Oscars (including Best Picture) out of 12 nominations and endures as a modern classic.
GANGS OF NEW YORK (2002)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, and Daniel Day-Lewis
Martin Scorsese’s epic paints an unflinching portrait of Ralph Lauren’s hometown during its rough-and-tumble early days and features a typically powerful performance from Daniel Day-Lewis, who, in preparation for the role, wore a prosthetic eye and practiced tapping it with a knife without blinking.
THE FILMS OF 007
Everyone has their favorite Bond, but whether played by Connery or Craig, the world’s most stylish secret agent has long been one of Ralph’s favorites characters. Above: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), For Your Eyes Only (1981), GoldenEye (1995), and Casino Royale (2006).
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