Selling a Dream of Elegance and the Good Life

On a daily basis, I tend to open a glossy magazine and enjoy flicking through its high quality pages to view the latest collections from designers, home wares, houses, holidays, motorbikes, restaurants, yachts and the like. Today, something caught my eye. By surprise.

On a stark white page stands a man. He’s dressed in an immaculate pin-striped suit of charcoal grey and white. A thin almost paper like looking pencil tie, and an American Indian belt buckle attached to the highest grade leather belt. A watch peeps out from under his rolled back white French cuffs, and he has a smouldering look in his eyes. So what. We’ve seen it before. But there is one ‘other’ thing I’ve not seen before. A wedding band.

I cannot tell you how long advertisers and designers have made sure that the scent of ‘marriage’ is nonexistent in making sure their brands look available to any target market of woman. And to allow the emancipation of that certain man who is aspiring to the ‘wild thing’ in his ego to look good and to feel desirable to women, even if they are married. Here, we see Ralph Lauren’s Black Label take on a more realistic, chivalrous, endearing, enchanting, heart-winning vision of a man in his suit donning his wedding band ‘claiming’ he has a woman, a wife, a soul mate.

As you’re all well aware, MenStylePower is all for enhancing the ‘inner man’ in our blogs and articles. We couldn’t be happier to see the reality that men ‘want’ to settle down in the latest folio of designs from Ralph Lauren. And I guess the reason why it’s so pronounced, is that Lauren himself has been married for a long time to Ricky Low-Beer and is also the father of three children, Andrew, David and Dylan.

Ralph Lauren was born in the Bronx, New York. From a young age he started working after school to earn money to buy suits. How brilliant it is to hear that what you are to become, starts to cultivate itself in you from a very early age. (Guys without a clue, listen up!). Growing up, Lauren was known by his classmates for selling ties to his fellow students. In a moment of spontaneity, when asked what he wanted to do in his Clinton yearbook he stated under his picture that he wanted to be a millionaire! There was always a “constant urge to make something happen. He was always reaching for more.”

Lauren now oversees his empire and its 1,000 employees in a ten-floor warren of offices that occupy a narrow, pre-war building on Manhattan’s West 55th Street, about 15 blocks north of the hectic garment district. The decor of Lauren’s headquarters suggests the backstage of a theatre: cramped and slightly eccentric, with forest green walls and a bowl of M&M’s on a table in the reception room. Lauren’s personal office contains some of his favourite props: a wood-burning fireplace, a fleet of toy racing cars, family photographs and piles of fabric swatches. He often wears a studiedly scruffy uniform: a cotton work shirt faded Levi’s and well-worn cowboy boots. “This is who I am,” he claims. “You’ve got to be who you are.”

Lauren’s career has been award-winning, including in 2010, Ralph Lauren was decorated Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris. Although not a particularly good sketch artist, which was a must at the time of his commencement in Fashion, he knew how to put together a fashionable ensemble. “I would walk (into a room) and my clients would say, ‘I want what you are wearing.’ My instincts were there. I didn’t think I was a designer, but I had ideas.” In those days, garment company bosses generally called the shots in the fashion business, and American clothing designers were only beginning to achieve acceptance as entrepreneurs.

His Polo brand known today as the preppy English-tweed look it conveys did not get to be a million dollar empire because Lauren was lucky, nor because Lauren had an immaculate sense of style. Lauren not only had an innovative mind, but he also knew that packaging and presentation were of utmost importance — something he didn’t need to learn while studying for his business degree.

Well, for the man who was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie, The Great Gatsby, one cannot argue that this man and his Empire is purely that of chivalry, completion and championship.

Ralph Lauren’s latest Black Label collection is a combination of Sean Connery-era James Bond. It’s not English and it’s not preppy, it’s just the man-about-town.