Fashion idol Ralph Lauren revealed his iconic car collection in April for a Paris exhibition celebrating over 70 years of four-wheeled wonders.
More renowned in Paris for his catwalk creations,
Lauren’s automobile collection teams dashboard leathers and glittering chrome in an anthology of timeless designs, including some of the most emblematic cars of the 20th century.
The iconic exhibition is the first of its kind to be featured in an art museum, but it continues a tradition at the venue.
In 1970, Les Arts Décoratifs presented a selection of competition cars, ‘Bolides Design’. To compile the exhibition, a special jury was assembled, comprising designers Joe Colombo, Roger Tallon and Pio Manzu, and the artists Jean-Paul Riopelle, Jean Tinguely and Victor Vasarely, as well as Robert Delpire and François Mathey.
The jury chose the models with the idea of the car as a design object, a work of art, showing that, in their words, “Art and technique, each at their own level, are the expression of man and his relationship with design”.
The Ralph Lauren car collection can be seen from the same perspective.
Patiently assembled over several decades by the fashion designer in a quest for speed and performance, it includes some of the most extraordinary jewels in the crown of European automobile history, with beauty as its common denominator.
For its first presentation in Europe, the Ralph Lauren collection is being put on display by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who has opted for an intimate visual approach as these vehicles stand out both for their overall design and detail, as well as for bodywork, chassis and engines.
The kinetic energy and sound of the vehicles will be reproduced by means of several films and recordings. A seminar on automobile design will also be held during the exhibition.
Lauren’s eye for a car’s artistic beauty was shrewd according to the exhibition’s curator, Rodolphe Rapetti: “We are looking at one of the most extraordinary concentrations of automobile masterpieces we can imagine because the exhibition starts with a Bentley Blower of 1929 and it ends with a McLaren F1 of 1996.”
The exhibition is only 17 cars strong, but they include the 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, the 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC, one of only four ever produced, of which there are only two surviving examples.
It is clear cars were the designer’s boyhood passion, and more than influenced the designs which later adorned his catwalks and jewellers.
“He used the dashboard of the Bugatti Atlantic as a model for a watch that he created, you know. This is a kind of inspiration, and also the collection in itself is a work of art, because it tells the story of car design concerning the period when it is the most obvious, when the changes in car design are the most obvious,” said Rapetti.
Lauren decided to include some more recent wonders as well, exhibiting his 1996 McLaren F1 LM. The exhibition ends at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on 28 August.