Congratulations, or should that be félicitations, to both Marc Jacobs and Natalie Rykiel – head of Sonia Rykiel. When we found out this morning that they are going to be honoured by the French culture minister Frédéric Mitterrand in a ceremony tomorrow in Paris and decorated with the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres – the French equivalent of a knighthood, we were chuffed. Bien fait indeed.
This side of the Channel, we started the year by finding out that Amanda Wakeley, Stephen Jones and Luella Bartley were being decorated by the Queen’s New Year's honours. Not long before that, Christopher Bailey, head of Burberry, was made an MBE!
Mr Jacobs' trophy cabinet already contains accolades such as the Perry Ellis Golden Thimble award from his days as a design student at the Parsons School of Art and Design in 1984 in New York, plus the Women's Designer of the Year award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1992 for his radical grunge collection for Perry Ellis. He has been at Louis Vuitton since 1997, in which time the company has quadrupled its worth.
Natalie Rykiel has taken over more and more responsibility from her mum Sonia over the years. The company is still as relevant and forward-looking as it was in 1964, when Sonia was crowned ‘Queen of Knitwear’, a title that stuck with her. One recent success was December’s collaboration with H&M on a line of lingerie.
Some people think that being a fashion designer is a life of glitz, glamour and fabulous wealth, when in fact the successful ones will have struggled and strived for years without making a profit to get where they are. Even when heading up a fashion house, workloads are heavy, days off are rare and all-nighters routine (especially around the shows), so it’s good news when they are recognised by the establishment.
Even naughty ol’ provocateur Alexander McQueen graciously accepted his CBE in 2003. When later quizzed about this by interviewers who assumed he was anti-royalist, he said that he’d accepted it for his mum. Aw.
- Naomi Attwood