Ralph Lauren Wheel Life

By
Photography Michael Furman

Published March 21, 2011

 

An obsession with the classic not only drives Ralph Lauren’s work as a fashion designer, but also his taste in sports cars. At least that is the assessment from “The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces of the Ralph Lauren Collection,” which opens later this month at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Seventeen cars were handpicked by curator Rodolphe Rapetti to illustrate Lauren’s interest in the evolution of automobile design. The vehicular odyssey stretches from a black 1929 Bentley Blower driven by 007 in Ian Fleming’s Bond novels to a tangerine 1996 McLaren that goes from 0 to 100 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds. Also on view are a 1938 Bugatti Atlantic Coupé (left), a 1955 Jaguar XKD (above), and four 1958 Testa Rossa models from Ferrari’s wildly idolized 250 series (below). Possibly the most comprehensive showing of Lauren’s collection to date, the exhibit includes archival footage of the cars in their natural element—the racetrack—as well as audio recordings of the cars in action to complete the multisensory experience. “The beauty is not only outside, but also inside,” Rapetti explains. “Each piece, including the mechanics, is a work of art.” While a car obsession jibes perfectly with Lauren’s overarching interest in Americana, Rapetti sees auto-worship through a more universal creative lens. “If you think of great artists of the 20th century—Picasso, André Derain, Françoise Sagan—an interest in cars is always present,” Rapetti says. “It’s something innate to people who are involved in creation.”