The self-made fashion magnate Ralph Lauren is celebrated as one of the great interpreters—and embodiments—of the American dream. And yet, the Ralph Lauren aesthetic would be nowhere near as powerful without the designer’s aspirational appreciation of the British gentry.
Yes, Ralph gives us all-American torn blue jeans and varsity jackets, but without the English-inflected tweeds, strong-shouldered suits, high-necked blouses, and faded roses, his Polo and Purple Label brands might just be, well, Tommy Hilfiger. (RIP Rugby Ralph Lauren.)
Now, the British empire is repaying the man born Ralph Rueben Lifshitz to Belarusian immigrants in the Bronx with the ultimate validation: an honorary knighthood. Lauren has been named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a designation that recognizes his accomplishments in fashion, trade, and philanthropy. He will receive an insignia—a fancy British badge not unlike one that might come embroidered on a Ralph Lauren jacket—in a ceremony next year.
It’s quite the cap on a banner year for Lauren, whose empire is currently worth nearly $10 billion. He celebrated his collection’s 50th anniversary with a show in September that included Hillary Clinton, Robert De Niro, Kanye West, and Steven Spielberg among its guests. (Oprah gave a toast.) That same month, he threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Sadly, because Lauren is not a British citizen, he will not be called Sir Ralph. But we all know he’s fashion royalty.