The words ‘sexy’, ‘sassy’ or even ‘attractive’ are not usually associated with royalty or politics, yet the gossip pages of your morning paper or the monthly edition of Vogue increasingly reflect the fact that the tides are changing. That is not to say politics or Royalty has completely integrated with the fashion world of course, but what cannot be denied is that the vanilla, better-to-be-safe-than-sorry look (still the predominant scheme of wardrobes for women in these particular circles) is slowly embarking on a more experimental – perhaps even ‘sexy’ horizon.
Let’s start with the obvious, the wonderful Carla Bruni-Sarkozy- a ‘demure’ favourite of Anglo-Franco tabloids. with a very colourful background. A supermodel of the 1980’s, she has metamorphosised from a partying animal socialite into the respected ornament of the French president. Carla’s beauty not to be denied, and it was her chic Dior outfits she wore when her husband visited Britain that won over the British public and media. Her outfits were a little conservative fashion-wise, but in the political world, it banished memories of Tessa Jowell and Ruth Kelly’s foul clobber. Britain was in awe of her presence- the French President was welcomed with open arms. Not only has Carla ceased the ‘yawn’ of fashion in political circles- she has somehow created a more popular French President.
Even on this side of the Channel, though, female political figures are turning heads, most notably Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron. Samantha is similar to Carla, a respected fashion figure with a personality to match. She typifies ‘Notting Hill’ style, a smart, pragmatic look, but also one that is stylish – just what the political world needs. Women prefer Samantha to Sarah because they can relate to her. The ever-growing importance of personality is seeing ‘cool’ and ‘chic’ wives, in correspondence to their husband’s popularity scores surging in the female-voter demographic.
Bless Sarah Brown for ordering teeth whitening and some soft pastels to improve Gordon Brown’s complexion – but let’s be honest it seems a lost cause both in policy and style. Yet for Sarah it may not be too late to turn away from the frump aesthetic. Sarah has admitted to her lack of desire to spend too much money on clothes, though recently she has seen the light. Working with friend, American designer Britt Lintner, has influenced her style in a positive way. At the World Economic Forum held earlier this year, Sarah wore a typical suit – but with a statement piece, Stella McCartney shoes. Other figures noticed this, including the Queen Rania of Jordan, which cemented their wearer to their radars. Undoubtedly Sarah Brown’s fashion is dull, but it is effective. The largest group of floating voters in Britain are women aged 25-45, now a major political force. With the credit crunch and popularity rates still going down, Gordon knows he will have to use his wife to win over the British public and step out of her shadow.
Hillary Clinton recently pulled out of a shoot for Vogue at the last minute, for fear of appearing too feminine. This move was widely criticised by both political and fashion commentators. Vogue’s considerable readership would have helped salvage at least a part of the female vote from Obama, and relaxed her hard, staid image. Wearing the right clothes is demonstrative of effort, skill and is a politically clever thing to do, even for simply generating the right kind of media exposure. Next, some decent suits for the men.