Ralph Lauren will, without a doubt, classify 2018 as a good year. Besides a star-studded fashion show and a well-received celebration of label’s 50 years’ worth of creations, this year is also marked as the year that Lauren is recognized for his achievements by the Queen herself. A few days ago, it was announced that Ralph Lauren will be bestowed with the Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his work in both fashion and philanthropy, which is still quite the feat for the already decorated and multi-awarded designer.
Although he is far from being the first non-British awardee, Lauren still makes history for being the first American designer to be given the honor. In the official statement made by Antony Phillipson, British Consul General to New York, Lauren was chosen because he has bridged both sides of the Atlantic in terms of culture and economy. The recognition was also because of his undeniable influence in both American and international fashion for half a century and running, as well as his significant philanthropic work. In the past, he has endeavored to make quality health care more accessible to cancer patients, even establishing The Ralph Lauren Centre for Breast Cancer Research in London’s Royal Masden Hospital. In 2016, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, opened the research center alongside Lauren. The designer already has a history with the hospital since the Duke of Cambridge’s mother, Princess Diana, was the institution’s president.
In his long and illustrious career in the industry, Lauren has already been the recipient of many honors and awards. Some of these include the French Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur, which the then French president Nicolas Sarkozy presented to the designer in 2010, and the Smithsonian’s James Smithson Bicentennial Medal which he received in 2014 for his efforts in preserving the national flag. The honors given within the fashion industry have already been too many to keep count, although some of them came from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
In receiving the prize, Ralph Lauren will be among a distinguished set of Americans, including former presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, Steven Spielberg, Bill and Melinda Gates, Angela Lansbury and Angelina Jolie. Don’t go around calling Lauren “Sir” though, the same way you would not add the titles to others from the list. Honorary knights and dames, awardees from nations where the head of state is not the Queen, are not typically assigned the title, although the magnitude of the distinction still cannot be downplayed. Lauren will be presented with the prize next year at an official ceremony, although we will not be seeing Queen Elizabeth II personally do the awarding.
The association between the Queen and fashion is nothing new—the evolution of her style has been well-documented, proving that she knows how to yield fashion’s powers if necessary, and recognizes creators who make a difference in the industry. In February of this year, the Queen attended British designer Richard Quinn AW18 show to personally present the very first Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, which acknowledges the bigger role fashion plays in the society beyond fulfilling a basic need and having a means for self-expression.
Image credits: Mark Seliger, Reuters/Shannon Stapleton, Getty Images, Ralph Lauren, Mike Marsland/WireImage