In a fashion world so fickle, where centuries-old fashion houses are exchanged between Chinese conglomerates like football cards in a playground and creative directors are turfed out after one poorly received collection, it is hard to believe that one man has managed to keep his place at the industry's top table for 50 years. Not only that, he has built an empire in that half-century, an empire that has never had to be reinvented season after season but one that has organically evolved so as to always be at once contemporaneous, forward-looking and respectful of heritage. Ralph Lauren is, in short, a maverick and a talisman of menswear.
So why choose ties to celebrate 50 years of possibly the greatest, most influential American designer? To understand is to travel back in time to Mr Lauren's very first steps in the fashion industry. In the mid-60s, he began designing ties at Rivetz in New York, where he started to create cravats that were wider, more colourful, and made from unique fabrics: "At the time, everyone was making thin ties from dull fabrics, but I wanted to make handmade ties that were wider and expressed more, ties that I imagined a hero from one of my favourite movies would wear, ties that told a story and made you feel you were a part of that story. I thought of the name Polo, because of the glamour and elegance the sport evokes. I didn’t know it at the time but the ties would be the genesis of my brand.”