Leaders: do we care what they wear?
Fashion has been a medium through which a person expresses his personality by the outfit he/she opts to wear. And perhaps, it’s this idea of putting yourself out there and making a statement through sartorial choices that appeal the most to politicians worldwide. Since politicians have constantly endeavored to put their best foot forward, their aim to gather support of the masses now surpasses the speeches made and political agendas set. The following are just a handful of politicians who have made fashionable-headlines:
- Hina Rabbani Khar
Pakistan’s youngest (and prettiest) female Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar came under fire by fashion critiques at home and abroad for her choice of Birkin bag. At her 2011 official visit to India, all hell broke lose as she dropped a style-bomb upon arrival by carrying a black Hermes’ Birkin costing around $10,000-$15,000. And that was not all. Khar was also reported to have been wearing a pair of Roberto Cavalli shades costing over $500, and Jimmy Choos of over $900 a pair.
While the fashion conscious individuals lauded her attempt to look absolutely suave in front of her contemporaries, others deemed her overly priced wardrobe unnecessary. They felt that Khar should be a true representation of a third-world nation she belongs to, and should invest herself into policy making rather than picking out luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo. Given that Khar’s blue ensemble paired with a string of pearls oversized handbag and fashionable sunglasses made quite the statement, she most definitely fulfils the definition of beauty with brains.
- Narendra Modi
Standing in stark contrast with Khar’s poised image, Narendra Modi’s bold fashion choices gave him more international acclaim than needed. Earlier this year, the agenda behind meeting President Obama was lost within Modi’s gold pinstripes of his dark suit with a checkered pocket square. It was in that moment when close photographs of the meet-up revealed something more important than state-secrets itself. The gold strips on Modi’s suit read ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi.’
The Gujarat based designer who requested to keep his anonymity intact, explained to media how he’s been working closely on designing Mr Modi’s wardrobe since 2001. While fashion critics deemed his style-antics as amusing, others felt that such a choice in wardrobe only highlights his narcissism. It should be kept in mind however that, (unfortunately so) this isn’t Modi’s first attempt to sartorially oomph up his image. In fact, his flair for fashion often comes across when he chooses to sports short-sleeved versions of the kurta or wear an Indian knee-length loose shirt to official meetings!
- Sarah Palin
Politician Sarah Palin doesn’t shy away from the headlines too. More than just her political commentary and stance in American political system, in 2008’s election, it’s reported that Republican National Committee infamously shelled out $150,000 for her new clothes and continues to do so even to this day.
While endorsing the Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump recently during a rally at the Iowa State University, Sarah Palin faced the heat of ferocious twitter-army that took stabs at her outfit, rather than her opinions on Trump. The 51-year-old grandmother was adorned in beaded bolero, an embellished jacket from Milly and retails which was about $695. Palin paired the statement jacket with short, beaded fringe adding glamour, with a black sheath, and patent leather knee-high boots for some extra flair.
Needless to say, no matter how many critics question her choice of clothing that remained more fitting for a ladies’ afternoon soiree than in a political arena; the jacket itself was sold out within minutes. That says a lot about the power of politics-fashion collaboration!
- Michelle Obama
Known to push the American fashion industry into the international spotlight, Michelle Obama’s style has transformed from average-first lady to a glimmering fashion icon. Her carefully selected wardrobe has always managed to hint off at the quirky and eccentric embellishments that do not adhere to unwritten protocol associated with being the first-lady, but at the same time, reflects her vibrant personality.
At multiple events she has been spotted wearing either designer Reed Krakoff’s custom-made ultramarine silk day dress and cashmere cardigan or a navy Thom Browne coat cut from custom-made jacquard and a coordinating dress. Although she continues to look quite a visionary in almost any couture gown she adorns, but critics rightfully argue about the relevance of her dressing sensibilities. They feel that in country’s fight against non-state actors, gun control and even basic issues such as child obesity, her outfits’ uber glamour is not really needed.
- Hilary Clinton
Last but not the least, the current hooh-hah on Hillary Clinton’s New York primary victory speech outfit reminded us yet again why fashion and politics union need to be taken to consideration with a pinch of salt! Positioning herself as an every-women, Hilary broke a number of hearts and expectations of the critics as they watched her give a speech on income inequality and job creation adorned in $12,495 Giorgio Armani tweed jacket.
Hilary has always been under the limelight when it comes to her wardrobe selection. From wearing frumpy skirt suits as the first-lady, to upgrading her style-game to high-end European labels, Hilary has always endeavored to dress the part in her race to become the leader of America.
It can easily be argued that her newly hired team of image experts with former experience with Michelle Obama and Kristina Schake, do not directly affect the American political system. But, by banking onto high-fashion accessory designers such as Mikimoto pearls and Chanel pins, Hilary is putting forth an influential image of herself as a smart yet sensible political leader. To add to that, she is reported to spend least $200,000 on new clothes to wear on the campaign trail, so there’s a lot more to see from where this came from!