ARTS DEGREE: The drizzle came at the perfect time, sending Dries Van Noten’s guests from the terrace at the Arab World Institute into the dining room, which featured curtains of Christmas lights and two long tables, with each guest’s name handwritten on a big white plate.

They gathered to see him decorated with an Order of Arts and Letters by French politician Jack Lang, who hailed the Belgian designer as a superb colorist devoted to “artistic perfection.” Lang surprised him by elevating him to the level of officer, pinning a green medal on the lapel of his navy suit.

“Flabbergasted,” Van Noten confessed before the brief ceremony. “I’m more nervous than I was for my men’s show.”

The dinner was sumptuous, served family-style and prepared by one of Brussels’ best chefs, with Van Noten touring the tables to invite the likes of curator Pamela Golbin and musician Colin Greenwood of Radiohead to coffee and tea on the terrace.

Offered by the Ministry of Culture, the award of merit recognizes significant contributions to the arts and literature.