Ritu Kumar receives 'Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters' Award
The French government has bestowed the prestigious award of "Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres “(Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters)” on veteran designer and revivalist Ritu Kumar.
The award is in recognition of Ritu Kumar's contribution to Indian fashion, the intensive work done by her in textile crafts and traditional techniques of the various regions of the country. Her unique interaction with the French and the international fashion world has created a synthesis which has kept Indian aesthetics in constant touch with the contemporary world of fashion.
The “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of the arts and literature) is an Order of France, established on May 2, 1957 by the Minister of Culture, in France, and confirmed as part of L'ordre National du Mérite by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963.
The French government confers several distinctions, among which the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) is conferred on persons who have distinguished themselves by their creativity in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of the arts in France and throughout the world.
In the past, some eminent personalities from the field of art and culture, who have been conferred this award include Shahrukh Khan, Anjolie Ela Menon, Dr. Alka Pande, Merryl Streep and Daneille Steele.
The award was conferred by H.E the French Ambassador, Mr. Jérôme Bonnafont on behalf of the French Minister of Culture and Communication on the 8th of December 2008.
Commenting on the award, Ritu Kumar said, "This award is recognition of not only my personal journey through the richness of Indian textiles but is also the first of its kind given to the field of fashion in the Indian sub–continent. I am honored and proud to receive this award not only on my behalf but on behalf of the estimated 16 million craftsperson who practice India's textile crafts as a livelihood. As the world moves into a mechanized mode most of these crafts have been designated to studios."
"This tradition though still lives in the hands of India's crafts people and master craftsmen. Today we are in India no longer associated with cheap labour but are recognized for the sophistication, richness and diversity of our highly skilled techniques internationally. The award is also a tribute to Indian fashion whose time seems to have come.”
France shares a unique synergy and understanding of India's deep rooted traditions and culture. It is a very discerning and creative body like that of “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” which has acknowledged not only India's fashion talent but also its textile crafts with this award".
Minister of Culture, France