The press followed the dwindling amounts of Labour Party supporters down to bonny Brighton this week, who in turn were there to see Ed, Ed and the rest orate just how they will save the country from its current state of mortal peril. What no one banked on was Miliband and his wife re-enacting the opening stills from a soft-core porno. However joyous I am that Ed has unbuttoned his top button, there was really no need for the photo-op that the Labour Party conference vomited out of its PR-invested underbelly. Also note: Sally Bercow (they let her in?) looking slightly, ahem, mannish; Sadiq Khan doing it right.
NO TIE, DON’T CARE
Full marks to Yvette who says no to the trouser suit and yes to boucle jacket
Justine Thornton spotted out of the arms of her sex-god husband (thumbs up for the earrings); Sally Bercow looking like she’s well up for hitting Brighton freshers week after she’s done with this snooze-fest (thumbs down for the make-up and, well, being Sally Bercow).
Sharp: Is Sadiq Khan our own Obama?
“Did I mention I’m a family man too?!”
There are no words.
About a week ago, Vanity Fair released the 2013 International Best-Dressed List. In true VP style the list is brimming with obscure Princesses (plus Kate Middleton), gallery curators and CEOs, yet includes just one fashion blogger (Hallie Swanson) and excludes Michelle Obama for the second year running. To many, this is No Big Deal, perhaps Vanity Fair just hate Alexander Wang and Michael Kors. But to the people in the world of WWP, this was a Really Big Deal, particularly because of the presence of the First Lady of China on the list. Us cynical, sartorial politicos ask questions such as: ‘does Vanity Fair have a secret allegiance with the Chinese government?’ and ‘could Peng Liyuan be the cause of World War Three?
Peng Liyuan’s style has been described as ‘trendy-yet-stately.’ Interestingly, I beg to disagree. On-duty she’s all about oriental suit jackets, scarves and slightly weird, military-inspired costumes (she is well known as a contemporary folk singer and soprano), off-duty she loves a pink puffa jacket. And more scarves. Her outfits are a perfectly coordinated mix of traditional Chinese dress and the pearls-and-chignon of Western First Ladies, which put simply, look boring at best and strange at worst. The outfit pin-pointed by Vanity Fair as her ‘notable ensemble of 2013’? A navy wool coat and sky-blue scarf. My 89 year-old grandma could have put that together.
As the Chinese Fashion Bloggersphere declares Peng as ‘China’s Business Card’ and her style as ‘glory for the motherland,’ other less excitable commentators question the repercussions of her inclusion. She may be ‘winning credit for China’ but to what ends? To be accepted on the worldwide fashion landscape is, lamentably, to be accepted by the West: has Vanity Fair unknowingly written the prequel to a stronger relationship between the US and China, just as US-Russian relations are crumbling?
As one Chinese ‘netizen’ articulated on Twitter: “Only when China’s environment and the people’s livelihood make the world’s best list can it be called strong.” In a country of such breadth, depth and censorship, we must remember how easy it is to put Peng Liyuan – Aids activist, entertainer and best-dressed First Lady – on the Chinese cover. Inside the country, it is hard to believe there is much in the way of designer labels, soprano solos, and soft, domestic bliss.
As painful as it is for a student of politics to write about the wives of politicians (there are few real ‘girlfriends’ in the British political sphere due to the fact that everyone’s married or awkwardly closeted), it would be slightly anachronistic for a blog like this not to mention them. And at the end of the day, as much as I’d love to see Tom Ford style Ed Balls on a day-to-day basis, I’d much prefer to write about Carla Bruni’s penchant for Dior. Or bitch about Yvette Cooper’s hair. Whatever. So to start at the top of the pile as it were, enter Spouse of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Samantha Cameron.
The question of whether Mrs. Cameron actually likes being called ‘Sam’ must be asked. After all, she is descended from King Henry VIII, and comes from the same gene pool as Princess Diana.
Yet she has done a pretty outstanding job at keeping this from the Great British Public. Yes, her family own two, 300-acre estates but she studied art at Bristol Polytech; yes, she named her second child Arthur Elwin but she’s got a cute Deschanel-esque fringe in place of a horrendous Cherie Blair blow dry. Her style is somewhere between poster-girl for the Whistles’ Basics range and Carole Middleton on crack. She knows what suits her, accessorises near-perfectly and in another life I’m sure she could have made it as a model.
For the Boden catalogue maybe, but a model nonetheless.
The thing WWP likes the most about Sam is her face. It has this permanent demeanor of ‘I’m too busy for this politics business…where’s my intern? I need a macchiato pronto.’ Coupled with her mildly hilarious aversion to hats (opting for a clip-in fascinator at the Royal Wedding, going sans headwear at the opening of parliament), SamCam has turned out to be one of the more successful first ladies to grace our lands, Zara blazers and all.