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Francois Pinault, Salma Hayek win top French honours

François Pinault, owner of Chateau Latour, has been awarded the highest civilian French honour.

The founder of PPR luxury group, owners of Gucci, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Yves Saint Laurent and Puma as well as Latour, was named a Grand Officier in the annual Legion d’Honneur new year’s awards.

His daughter-in-law Salma Hayek, 45, the Mexican actress and director who is married to Pinault’s son, François-Henri – who has now taken over from his father in the day-to-day direction of both Latour and PPR – has been awarded the title of Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

Hayek was cited in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her 23 years of service to the creative industries, but the decision has caused some consternation in France, with one politician – Henri Torre – reportedly refusing his award in protest at a foreigner receiving the award.

She is however continuing a long tradition of honouring foreign actors – past recipients include George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jude Law and Sharon Stone.

Past recipients of the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur in the wine and food world include California wine merchant Kermit Lynch, Robert Parker, Julia Child, and Robert Mondavi.

Michelin-starred French chef Hélène Darroze, currently at the Connaught in London, was also awarded Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

Around 800 people received one of the five levels of honours, published on January 1, taking the number of Legion d’Honneur members to around 93,000.

The honours system was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 to honour military and civilian service in France, and awards the ascending ranks of Knight (chevalier), Officer, Commander, Grand Officer and Grand Cross.

The award was authorised for foreigners from the start. The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres was established in 1957 to recognise artistic and literary work.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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