After 50 years in business and countless accolades, Ralph Lauren has just received the most prestigious yet. Announced today, Lauren has been made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a title bestowed on him by Queen Elizabeth II. Lauren becomes the first American fashion designer to be recognized by the Her Majesty with an honorary knighthood and joins the ranks of fellow Americans, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Angela Ahrendts.
There are few as deserving of the honorary title as Mr. Lauren, who with his life and career in fashion epitomizes not only the American Dream, but an international success story. Born in 1939 in the Bronx, Lauren first studied business at Baruch College and then joined the U.S. Army before establishing his fashion company in 1967. At the start, he sold just ties to Bloomingdale’s, but quickly expanded into menswear and tailoring, with womenswear collections following. In 1972, he revolutionized ideas of casual wear and branding with his polo shirt, which featured a logo above the left breast. When he offered it in 17 color ways, you could say history was made.
But he didn’t stop there. In the decades since, Lauren has been the official outfitter of the United States Olympic teams, of the US Open, and of Wimbledon for decades counting. He’s dressed movie stars on the red carpet and in films like The Great Gatsby and Annie Hall. During Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, he was her clothier of choice. Clinton, plus many more A-listers besides, turned up at his Fall 2018 anniversary show, held at Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. Homages have been paid in the streets and in the skatepark, most recently via a collaboration with the British skate brand Palace. But perhaps nowhere is Lauren more celebrated than within the fashion world itself. At the 2018 CFDA Awards, Lauren received the first-ever Members Salute, where designers from Donna Karan to Alexander Wang explained the influence Lauren’s brand had on their lives and careers.
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