French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Armani’s 35-year career in fashion, by giving the couturier France’s most prestigious honor — the Legion d’Honneur — in an informal ceremony in the Jardin d’Hiver at the Elysee Palace in Paris, just days after the designer showed his chic Armani Privé collection at Couture Week.

During the ceremony, which was attended by the likes of Dame Helen Mirren, Lady Helen Taylor, Tina Turner, Carla Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Nathalie Rykiel, Princess Mafalda Von Hessen, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, the president of L’Oréal, and editor-in-chief of French Vogue Carine Roitfeld, Sarkozy said that France loves talent and is not afraid to embrace foreign talent.
He added, “As you know, I’m rather close to Italians,” alluding to his new singer/model wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.

Sarkozy also awarded the Légion d’Honneur to the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, picture above with Armani.

Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.