PARIS — While Bernard Arnault has uneasy relations with France’s Socialist government and left-leaning media, the British monarchy is smiling upon France’s richest and most formidable business titan.
On Friday, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said the Queen had approved an honorary award that will make Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
The Commonwealth Office, the body that advises the Queen on knighthoods to foreign nationals, said Arnault would get the award for “services to business and the wider community in the U.K.” He will be entitled to put the initials KBE after his name, but not to be called Sir.
The British award should be a balm to Arnault, who was criticized in France when he revealed last month that he had applied for Belgian citizenship, citing numerous personal and business ties to the country. Daily newspaper Libération published a front-page photo of the executive under the headline “Casse-toi riche con!” — whose most polite translation is “Get Lost Rich Idiot!”
Arnault is seeking amends for public insult and the tribunal correctionnel, a criminal or penal court, on Friday confirmed it has fixed a date of Oct. 4, 2013, to hear the case.
Arnault’s Belgian application came just as French President François Hollande confirmed he would impose a 75 percent tax rate on incomes of more than 1 million euros, or $1.3 million at current exchange. In a televised interview to discuss the controversial measure, Hollande chastised Arnault for not being patriotic enough.
The recognition in Britain also dovetails with the pro-business stance of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, who told a business summit last June that he would “roll out the red carpet” to wealthy French citizens and firms who wanted to move out and pay their taxes in Britain.
Arnault has said he “is and will remain” a fiscal resident of France, where he has been honored extensively. He was named a Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor in 2011, four years after receiving the title of Commander of the French Legion of Honor.
One source said the timing of the British honor is coincidental, as the nomination process would have been initiated about a year ago.
LVMH owns the Scottish whiskey brand Glenmorangie and British shirtmaker Thomas Pink, and its De Beers joint venture is based in London. The French luxury group operates about 100 stores in the U.K., and employs some 3,000 people. LVMH is parent of brands including Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Donna Karan and Guerlain.
The French group sponsored a 500-seat lecture theater at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, and it has an ongoing scholarship program there. It also underwrites an arts education project in London, and regularly sponsors exhibitions at such institutions as the Royal Academy of Art, Hayward Gallery and the British Museum.
The award could be bestowed in London, or at the British Embassy in Paris by the British ambassador to France, Sir Peter Ricketts, at a time agreed upon by the embassy and Arnault’s office.
Bill Gates, Placido Domingo, Bob Hope, Rudy Giuliani and Steven Spielberg are among foreign nationals who have received the honorary distinction.
“What he has done at Vuitton is really exceptional,” said @gameofthrones’ actress Gwendoline Christie on @mrkimjones’ final show for @louisvuitton. “He has rebooted luxury in terms of making it commercial, viable and contemporary. And most importantly artistic. He has never compromised his artistic vision for the sake of commodity.” (📷: @zefashioninsider)
After seeing a demand for men’s wear from its customers, British contemporary women’s wear label @ariesarise has added a men’s wear component and will launch a unisex collection with @mrporterlive. The 20-piece collection includes jackets, denim, logo T-shirts and more with deconstructed ‘90s vibes. Set to launch on January 18, you can shop the pieces on Aries’ website and on mrporter.com. #wwdfashion
“And so spending so much time with a character who thinks like that, inevitability you try and analyze yourself and go back and think about your own demons and dark chapters that you had in your life,” says @thedanielbruhl of his role in TNT’s “The Alienist.” The show, set in the Gilded Age of New York, also stars Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans. Head to WWD.com to read about how 39-year-old Brühl prepared for the role and why he thinks the show is so relevant to today #wwdeye ( 📷: @Eriktanner)
Now that Celine Dion’s collection has topped $10 million in sales, the pop superstar, fashion icon and newly-minted industry player is eyeing growth in Asia. Read the full report by @tiffanyap, link in bio. #wwdnews #celinedion
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
Among the familiar faces at @off____white’s show was a surprise figure: Japanese artist @takashipom, pictured here on Wednesday morning. Other show-goers included @jerrylorenzo, who spoke about his upcoming project: a @nike collaboration for back to school, with designs inspired by his childhood on the West Coast. Sitting in the front row were Future, Don Crawley, @miguel and more. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: Stephane Feugere)
According to @laurentsai, former “Terrace House: Aloha State” cast member, she didn’t know she was auditioning for the Japanese version of “Real World.” “I was telling a couple of my friends and someone’s like, ‘That sounds a lot like Terrace House.’ I was like, ’No it can’t be.’” Turns out, it was. But Tsai isn’t just a reality star — she’s an illustrator who has worked with Starbucks Japan and most recently, she’s dipping her toes into the fashion world. Head to WWD.com to read about her time on the show, modeling and her art. #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)
More changes are coming to New York Fashion Week: Beginning with the spring 2019 collection, @alexanderwangny will move his New York show to June from September, adopting a biannual schedule with collections shown in June and December. Additionally, the @cfda is planning for an official summer/winter fashion season taking place as soon as June and December 2018. Read more about the upcoming changes on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @slovekinpics)