Monday, June 01, 2009

Fashion in Politics interview on

Some people really want to be judged on appearances

Whatever people claim, when it comes down to it, fashion is all about making people like you. Even if your personality smells like a glove compartment full of arseholes, you’re only one sexy pair of jeans away from popularity and power. Everybody says they hate politicians, but in reality most politicians are actually pretty good at getting people to like them – so much so that they get to control the world. Obviously, then, they use fashion to help their dominance. David Hellqvist links the two on his blog, Fashion In Politics.

Why it took so long for some blogger to link the two is anyone’s guess. Hellqvist’s blog uses all that crap we know about fashion to try and decode the inner-mind of all those people with egos so big they want to rule us — otherwise known as politicians.

Vice: Being interested in fashion and politics is pretty unusual. Most fashion people are pretty scared of politics, right?
David Hellqvist: Yeah, that’s because traditionally fashion designers aren’t meant to interfere in politics. The thing is, most politicians don’t understand what a powerful way of communicating fashion is, except the despots and dictators, of course.

Can fashion ever really be political?
A lot of the time fashion is square and predictable, but sometimes it’s anarchic and rebellious, which are political things. It’s easy to print slogans on t-shirts like Vivienne Westwood does, but that’s boring. The political standpoint should be made by the wearer, not the designer. For example, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wears a beige windbreaker and a white shirt to try and make out he’s one of the people, while Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is a master at showing off his socialistic convictions by wearing a red beret or a red lambs wool pullover .

Why did you set up the blog?
People say they find politics boring but they do care about who the people leading them are. Fashion is a big part of that cult of personality and celebrity. So I wanted a blog where I could write about all of that.

Do you wish you were a politics writer?
No, a politician! I’d style myself on Fidel Castro or Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet, but not in terms of politics, obviously. I would rock the Fidel look with some khaki combats on my days off and wear a Pinochet-esque black cape from YSL for state openings. Throw in a pair of Cutler & Gross sunnies and I’m all set to go.

Who are the most stylish people in politics?
The evil politicians always outdo the good ones when it comes to style. People like the Ugandan leader (and rumoured cannibal) Idi Amin. Or Jean Bedel Bokassa, the ruler of the Central African Republic in the 60s, who spent a third of his country’s budget on his crowning ceremony and declared himself Jesus’ 13th apostle, or Zaire’s leopard-print loving leader Mobuto Sese Seko. But it’s not just dead despots who make snappy dressers. Muammar Al-Gaddafi is always matching his hats and dresses and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, with his comedy hair, platform shoes and amazing over-sized sunglasses. Sometimes he even turns out in just his bathrobe — that’s a dictator with sartorial attitude.


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