No English designer had headed a French haute couture fashion house until recently. This year, there were three - all graduates of Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design.
The successes of Alexander McQueen at Givenchy, John Galliano at Dior and Stella McCartney at Chloe, among other graduates, earned the college, part of the London Institute, a Queen's Anniversary Prize for higher and further education this week.
The prizes, awarded to 21 universities and colleges at a ceremony at St James' Palace on Wednesday, recognise world-class achievements in education.
They sit alongside the Queen's Awards to Industry and are run by the Royal Anniversary Trust, a charitable organisation set up to organise the official celebration programme of the 40th anniversary of the Queen's Accession to the throne in 1992. Awards will be made biennially until 2002.
This is the third time they have been made, and this round concentrated on links between education and outside organisations.
The other recipients were:
Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies for its success in working with industry; Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design for pioneering work teaching students film production and individual creative skills; University of Cambridge's Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences for establishing the relevance of mathematics to problems of public concern and raising the profile of mathematics generally; University of Dundee for pioneering use of keyhole surgery; University of Exeter's Children's Health and Exercise Research Centre for establishing paediatric exercise science as an academic study in this country and promoting more active lifestyles for young people; University of Glasgow's department of computing science for applying world-class computing research to solve real-world challenges; Godalming College for giving A-level students the chance to engage firsthand in real scientific research and pushing forward the boundaries of knowledge in some branches of chemistry; Hills Road Sixth Form College for transforming its sports, music and arts provision for students and the wider community;
University of Wales, Lampeter for its unique course for voluntary sector workers; Loughborough University's Institute of Development Engineering for giving outstanding support to developing countries through training and research; University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology for internationally-renowned work producing highly qualified all-round engineers; University of Wales College of Medicine for making and developing a scientific breakthrough which helps identify bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and gene mutations and has worldwide health benefits; Middlesex University's Technology Education Centre for producing creative support for technology teaching in schools; Mid-Kent College of Higher and Further Education's Frontline Service for giving students from varied social backgrounds qualifications in customer service; Plymouth College of Further Education for outreach programmes of training in basic employment skills; University of Reading for its international reputation for Shakespearean research, centring on development of London's Globe Theatre; Royal Holloway, University of London's Information Security Group for expertise in training information security specialists and developing secure communications and computer systems; Royal Northern College of Music for innovative training of students as music teachers through working with groups of schoolchildren, many from disadvantaged backgrounds; University of Sheffield's Humanities Research Institute for using CD Roms and the worldwide web, as well as traditional publications, to transform access to the humanities; University of Wales, Swansea for an innovative degree programme with industry training high-calibre graduates in materials engineering.