It’s not every day that you’re awarded France’s highest honour. Last week British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith received the Légion d’Honneur during a ceremony at the French Residence in Kensington, London.
But what is the Légion d’Honneur, anyway? It was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit. It’s so distinctive that on average, only 10 British national are awarded the Légion d’Honneur per year.
The designer, known for his focus on tailoring and ‘classics with a twist’, received the rank of Officier in the Order of the Légion d’Honneur in recognition of his career-long ties with France. In fact, the Paul Smith’s first store which opened in Nottingham in 1970 was named ‘Paul Smith Vêtements pour Hommes’, and 6 years later he showed his first menswear collection in Paris, a tradition he carries on every year.
“I am thrilled that this uniquely talented man chose to make France a focal point for his creativity and entrepreneurship. He is an inspiration to a whole generation of young designers on both sides of the Channel,” said Ambassador Sylvia Bermann who presented Smith with his award.
Clearly it pays to stay in good graces with the French.