One afternoon a few years ago, I was walking along Ice House Street when I saw a group of smartly dressed executives up ahead. They were in a circle facing each other, listening intently and nodding methodically. As I approached, I could see a pair of arms shooting up from the centre of the circle, gesticulating wildly—pointing here and there, directing the heads of the multiracial execs towards certain shopfronts on the intersections. I wondered to myself: “Who is this diminutive but commanding figure?” As I drew closer, the telltale signs revealed themselves: black polo neck and trousers, a dignified plume of silver hair contrasting with the tanned skin of a relaxed and successful man. It was none other than Ralph Lauren himself.
Looking back, I wished I had asked for a selfie with this fashion titan. But he was hard at work, instructing his team on which piece of prime Hong Kong real estate to acquire for his next Ralph Lauren store. There he was, in his 70s, still driving the business, right here on the streets of Central. The scene was demonstrative of how, after decades at the top, he retains a deep engagement with his sprawling lifestyle empire. In this month’s exclusive cover story on p.180, we interview Mr Lauren and discover how this enduring icon maintains his passion. We also take a tour of his fascinating office—an overflowing museum of Americana—and hear his thoughts on family, Asia and the bacon cheeseburger at his eponymous eatery in London.
You can find beautiful objects galore in the Features section with our story on family heirlooms (p.196), in which we ask a coterie of our socialite friends about the most treasured items passed down to them, from a cheongsam that once belonged to a grandmother to a 700-year-old bowl. Also in Features is our annual report on the most glamorous ball in the world—besides the Tatler Ball, of course!—the Bal des Débutantes in Paris. This year, Hong Kong was well represented by the glamorous duo of Alexandra Louey, daughter of William Louey and Marie- Christine Lee, and Elly Lam, daughter of Peter Lam and Lynn Hsieh. Turn to page 188 for Melissa Twigg’s account, accompanied by charming images from Hong Kong Tatler’s roving photographer, Crazy Rouge.