Nominated by his former faculty and selected by the University's Honorary Awards Committee – consisting of 14 academic notables including the Vice and Deputy Vice Chancellors – Kneen will accept this award in front of hundreds of students and join a group of elite alumni honorees which includes Sir David Attenborough , naturalist and broadcaster; Paul Greengrass , journalist and Hollywood director; Hilary Mantel , Booker Prize winning author and Gail Emms , badminton Olympian.
"I am really humbled to be extended this honor by Kingston University in the company of such accomplished award winners," says Kneen. "I have been so fortunate to find a career that is my inherent passion, and to be awarded for it is truly an honor."
Kingston University confers awards to recognize distinguished contributions in professional fields, accepted by a select group of prominent individuals within an academic year. Awards include honorary fellowships, extended to those who have made outstanding contributions to the University, in addition to honorary doctorates – that which will be awarded to Kneen – to those who have achieved international distinction in a variety of high-profile roles.
Kingston University's academic director of fashion Elinor Renfrew says Kneen has displayed an unstinting commitment to fashion education throughout the course of his high-profile career. "Simon has retained close links to Kingston University since he graduated and is an exceptionally inspiring role model to our students.
"His sharp eye for detail, astute knowledge of the global market and passion for approaching design from a fresh perspective makes him a truly motivational mentor during his visits to Kingston's fashion studios. We are enormously proud to be able to mark his exceptional career and contribution to the fashion industry by naming him an Honorary Doctor of Arts," says Renfrew.
With over 30 years of experience in the apparel industry, Kneen has been at the forefront of the Banana Republic global design team since 2008 as Creative Director and Executive Vice President of Design.
From 2003 to 2008, he served as creative design director for the Retail Brand Alliance, where he set the creative vision for the Brooks Brothers and Adrienne Vittadini brands, and was the first to design a fashion collection for men and women at Brooks Brothers. From 2001-2003, Kneen was creative director for Maska, the Italian fashion house known for its exclusive couture collection and fashionable ready-to-wear line. Prior to that, he was head designer, Pret-a Porter, for Maison Balmain.
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