Style renews itself by keeping one eye on the past even as it moves forward. So it is that twice a year the MR PORTER team goes at it to come up with a short list of men, both historic and contemporary, that evokes the mood of the forthcoming season. To say that this generates animated discussion is an understatement - are the tweed suits of some long-dead literary figure cut too loose to be relevant? And, inevitably, how many dead men can you have on the list?
The distillation brought by time works powerfully in favour of the dead guys. Half a century out we only remember the days when they sartorially smashed it. What this means is that our contemporary icons - men such as Messrs Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh - are doing something very right if they can hold their own in the company of style pioneers such as the late Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent.
There are 11 men on the list, and their occupations include fashion design, writing, mountaineering, shipping and whatever it is that European aristocrats do. They come from different places, cultures and eras, but they are united by the way that they use or used their clothes to express themselves.