Race-car drivers are always trying to shave off ounces and decrease the wind drag of their cars to improve their performance. Ralph Lauren, a Formula One racing fanatic and owner of three McLaren F1 cars (at $1 million per), brings that same thinking to the ski jacket. The new RLX Chassis Jacket ($595) is a study in high technology and sleek minimalism. Its lightness belies its warmth; the Gore-Tex shell sheathes two layers of Thermore insulation, whose thinness and elasticity allow for greater freedom of movement when schussing down the slopes.
Watertight zippers on the arms and torso, protected by strips of carbon fiber, open to reveal air vents for increased temperature regulation. A microfleece "cockpit collar" prevents neck chafing while allowing proper ventilation. Should you get snowed under, rescuers will have an easier time finding you, courtesy of the Recco Avalanche System reflector built into the right sleeve. With all this technology, you have no excuse not to be the first to the bottom of the hill.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.