Ralph Lauren takes Paris by storm

| 29 Apr 2011

The exhibition at Paris' spectacular Musée des Arts Decoratifs may feature just 17 classic cars, but the multi-million pound display drawn from the collection of fashion magnate Ralph Lauren is already being heralded as a credible contender as the greatest single car show ever staged.

L'Art de L'automobile opened in 28 April and runs until 28 August and features a range of the rarest and most coveted cars ever built. They include Lauren's Bugatti Atlantic, ex-Count Trossi Mercedes-Benz SSK, Tim Birkin's 'Blower' Bentley, a gaggle of Ferrari 250s (from 1957 TR to GTO) and enough other priceless macinery to make the likes of a 250GT Short Wheelbase and Jaguar XKSS look a little overwhelmed.

Apart from the Bugatti T57SC Atlantic, that has an area to itself, the cars are relatively cramped, yet the organisers have resisted the urge to restrict public access and visitors can get right up close to the wonder cars.

Although Lauren's cars have once previously been the subject of an exhibition (in Canada) this is a first for Europe and the hordes of attendees in the first few days of the show more than justified the effort.

Photography is not permitted, presumably to encourage visitiors to buy the pricey commemorative book that accompanies the exhibition, and a glitzy opening ceremony was attended by Leon star Jean Reno and actress Emmanuelle Béart.

Lauren said: "To me they are works of art. Many of the older cars from my collection were hand-made. The details, the metalwork, were done by artisans. Today there is so much more technical sophistication involved in the creation of cars, but the ones that I collect maintain an artistic integrity.”