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When you hear Ralph Lauren and Paris’ Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the same sentence, visions of galleries decked out in denim may come to mind. But for the museum’s current exhibition, the focus is on the iconic American designer’s collection of cars, rather than his most memorable fashion.

Any car enthusiast will tell you what an enviable collection Lauren has amassed. And we bet some less-in-the-know visitors could identify a model or two—and not the two-legged variety. Normally housed in a private garage in New York (just imagine the size of that garage!), some of his rare and valuable collectibles include a 1933 Bugatti Grand Prix, 1955 Mercedes Gullwing Coupe, a 1930 Mercedes Count Trossi (the world’s only), a 1955 Jaguar D-type with its shark fin, a 1958 Ferrari Testa Rossa and a 1996 F1 Mclaren.

The show entitled The Art Of The Automobile: Masterpieces of the Ralph Lauren Collection, which opened on April 28, consists of 17 of these rare beauties, but take note,  Lauren doesn’t like to think of himself as a collector. In a recent interview, Lauen said, “ I never thought of myself as a person who was going to buy cars to put them out there; I thought of myself driving them as they were part of me, not possessions or artistic beauty for someone else to look at, but for me to drive and drive my kids around in.”

The cars in his collection lend a source of creative inspiration for many of his designs. A few years back Lauren was inspired by the carbon fiber of his Mclaren, which he later used to create a modern and durable chair; the RL-CF1 was the first-ever carbon fiber chair. Some of the cars in Lauren’s collection include vehicles that were handmade by artisans. “I always loved machines that are the product of someone taking his passion for building and using to create beautiful shapes that give pleasure.” That sentiment is no doubt shared in his own collection of designed fashion and accessories, the most important of which are handmade by artisans throughout the world.

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