Fashion-and-Politics Doesn’t Exist.
12/04/2017 § Leave a comment
Or at least, not in the sense that fashion editors seem to be suggesting in their current discussions of the clothing choices of women who are in some way connected with politics.
Countless column inches have been devoted to who is going to “dress” the current First Lady of the United States of America, but because of the political statements and behaviours of her husband, Donald Trump, many designers have expressed a reluctance to “dress” Melania Trump at all. Last time I checked, though, Melania Trump was an able-bodied middle-aged woman who is as capable of putting clothes on as she is of taking them off, and has no need for anyone to “dress” her. She is also rich enough to buy whatever she wants from Net-a-Porter anyway, and doubtless does so, and so we should stop the “who’s going to dress the first lady” faux-scandalising.
Spare me from the structured shift dresses and the demure mid-height courts of Republican identi-blondes. Her father gave her the money to set up a company that produces prosaic drag for uninspired irrelevant women who think she represents the sort of success (marriage, babies, corporate career drone) they should aspire to. Fashion is about creativity, sexuality, and art. Ivanka Trump’s pedestrian contribution to the rag trade tells us nothing about fashion, and nor should we expect it to.
Famous for being the wife of the worst Prime Minister the UK has ever had, a man so privileged and entirely clueless about the state of the country he was governing that he engineered a game of political brinksmanship that has caused a constitutional crisis, immense and irreconcilable social divisions, profound economic instability, and potentially the break-up of the Union that allows the geo-political entity that is United Kingdom to exist in the first place. He, of course, is now yesterday’s man, languishing in the dustbin of history, which is doubtless made much more comfortable for him by the cushion of his tax haven millions, and his wife has started a clothing company which is being given more coverage in the fashion press than any other start-up, solely because of her connections. In a burst of heteronormative predictability, she named the company after her children, and is now producing clothes drawn from styles of a decade ago (exposed zips? still?) to sell to home counties Tory wives who want to be more interesting than they are but don’t have the edge for Cos or Finery London. If you want to look like you’re heading out for your 14th wedding anniversary dinner where you will sit in silence in a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in a village in Oxfordshire, before going home for a duty shag with your paunchy, tired-looking banking husband, you’ll need one of Samantha Cameron’s creations. Please excuse me if I politely decline, though – that’s not my style.
The British Prime Minister Theresa May buys expensive clothes, matches her colours and wears statement necklaces – all of which are the style hallmarks of a professional woman of advancing years who came of age in the 1980s. Her wardrobe is subject to scrutiny because she’s a woman in the public eye, and that sort of scrutiny goes with the territory, but she is not a fashion icon. She is only considered to be so by the standards of anyone who thinks that it is somehow “beneath” them (or, more likely, beyond them) to think about what they wear. Theresa May clearly gives some thought to what she wears, but, like it or not, we all do – fashion doesn’t come into it. No one leaves the house naked. No one leaves the house with their pants on their head and their shirt on back-to-front. Everyone thinks about what they wear. Theresa May also spends a lot of money on what she wears. But spending a lot of money on clothes is not fashion, it’s shopping.
These are the four women who, at the time of writing, are most closely associated with politics while simultaneously being scrutinised for their wardrobe choices. What all of these women have in common is that, whatever they have to say about clothing, they have nothing to do with fashion. With the exception of Theresa May, they also have a pretty tenuous connection to politics. And so, to use them as exemplars of the interface between fashion and politics is just plain wrong.