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In a speech packed with one-liners that had the crowd roaring with laughter, Sarkozy played up his honorees' origins. "As you know, I'm rather close to Italians," he said, alluding to his new wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who did not attend the event.
Carla Fendi, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Nathalie Rykiel, Lady Helen Taylor, Eugenia Silva and Tina Turner were among those who gathered in the sunlit Jardin d'Hiver for the ceremony. Turner accessorized her sparkling green jumpsuit with her own Légion d'Honneur medallion. "I've got my little shiny one," she said with a laugh, patting the prize.
Dame Helen Mirren bowed before Armani as she offered her congratulations. "The first time I had a posh dress, it was Armani," said the actress, who wore costumes by the designer in the 1990 film "The Comfort of Strangers."
The night before, The Kills performed at a party hosted by Longchamp at Elysée Montmartre. Guests including Riley Keough, Margherita Missoni, Lou Doillon and Stella Tennant sported temporary tattoos designed by Belgian artist Jean-Luc Moerman, who collaborated on Longchamp's anniversary collection.
Meanwhile, the same night, Duran Duran performed with producer Mark Ronson at a party for Smirnoff at La Cigale. "My sister and I have dances to every song, and we've been teaching Mum the moves," said Amber Le Bon, the eldest daughter of Duran Duran's lead singer, Simon, and his wife, Yasmin. Eva Mendes, Micky Green and Emilie Dequenne grooved to Ronson's reinterpretations of the band's 20-year-old classics plus songs from its new album.
Also on Wednesday, Mario Testino opened his exhibition, "Obsessed by You," at London's Phillips de Pury auction house. "I bought the black-and-white image of Kate Moss and I'm going to hang it on the wall of my office," said Topshop honcho Sir Philip Green, referring to an image of the model — and Topshop designer — holding a cigarette.