STAR POWER: Sir Paul Smith is doubling down on the knighthoods, taking home a second one courtesy of the Italian Republic. Earlier this week, the British designer accepted the Knighthood of the Order of the Star of Italy from the Italian ambassador to the U.K., Inigo Lambertini.
He received the honor during a ceremony at the Italian ambassador’s London residence. Lambertini presided over the event in the presence of Adolfo Urso, the Italian minister of enterprises and Made in Italy, guests from the worlds of fashion and culture, and friends of Smith.
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Lambertini said that “Sir Paul has not only captured the heart of Italians with his distinctive style but has also drawn inspiration and knowledge from our rich tailoring tradition.”
The Order of the Star of Italy was first introduced in the aftermath of the Second World War and was meant to acknowledge Italians living abroad, or foreigners who had made a particular contribution to the reconstruction of Italy.
It has evolved over the years, and the president of the Italian Republic now gives the award to people who have acquired “particular merits in promoting friendship and collaboration between Italy and other countries, and in promoting economic, cultural and scientific ties with Italy.”
Smith certainly fit the bill. “I’ve been working with the country for the past 40 years and Italy is close to Pauline’s and my heart,” said Smith, referring to this wife. The couple live in London and have a holiday home in Tuscany.
Smith has also been manufacturing his collections in Italy and buying fabric there for decades. He has 110 stockists across the country, “some of whom I’ve been working with for 25 years,” the designer said.
Italy and France are his largest European markets after the U.K.
Smith’s accolades are piling up. Last year, he joined an elite group of accomplished Britons, becoming a Companion of Honor to the British Monarch. It is the highest ranking among the special honors handed out by the royal family.
Smith was recognized for his services to British fashion, and is the first fashion designer to have received the honor. He joined a group that is limited to 65 people and includes Dame Maggie Smith, Sir David Attenborough, Sir Elton John, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Paul McCartney.
He received his knighthood 22 years before, in November 2000.
In 2016, the designer received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest distinction, during a ceremony at the French residence in Kensington, London.
Sylvie Bermann, the French ambassador to the U.K., bestowed upon Smith the rank of Officier in the Order of the Légion d’honneur, in recognition of Smith’s career-long ties with France. The Légion d’honneur was established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte. It is France’s highest distinction and is awarded in recognition of both military and civilian merit.
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