Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Political Image

 A chic look into our levush
By Mor Binder

Gillard and the Milan Fall Collection

Clothes send a message- often by not sending the right one. They reflect our roles, positions and, yes, certain aspects of our religiosity...

Historic moments were created these past few weeks in the realm of Australian politics, when Julia Gillard, leader of the Australian Labour Party (ALP), became our first ever female prime minister. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe we down here in the land of surf and sun have a life beyond those picturesque barbeques and complementary cricket matches.
In fact, not only do we have a political system, we also have the next best thing: the Media, who were quick to jump on the bandwagon of reprimanding Gillard’s sense of dress and style within hours of her ascent to power.

Now before we all start resembling our leftist counterparts who are probably still chanting witty lines about female equality let’s take a moment to realise how this case of image emphasis may be more than just a far cry for newspapers to conjure a catchy story.
Despite investing an average of $1000 (AUD) into her everyday suit, Gillard has been criticized by the fashion police for looking “frumpy” and indulging in garments that resemble motel bed spreads. So that answers the fashion equals money argument. Interestingly enough one of the first pieces of advice she was given was to drop the pants and opt for suit skirts. As for her image/ attire conundrum, the fashionistas of the world down under (yes we have those too) claim this will remain a distraction from the actual message she gives as Prime Minister until a transformation is made, namely allowing her a clothing allowance. Such an allowance was granted to the Governor-General Quentin Bryce (the queen’s representative to Australia, a position that is also for the first time being held by a woman). Despite this role being nothing more than a formality; seeing as our nation’s ties with Britain have - for better or worse- not been severed, it still holds a grand amount of honour. This would explain the $28,000 allowance received by Bryce on her initiation of the position, successfully enabling her to attire herself immaculately at all times, as expected from such an honourable role.
Keep in mind, unlike their fellow female limelight buddies, politicians including the likes of Gillard and Bryce are not allowed to accept gifts from fashion personnel, be they designers, stylists, major stores or even smaller boutiques. This, in a world where making it onto one episode of reality TV results in a team of brands knocking down your front door, presents a challenge to women who are in the public more often than some of the biggest celebrities, yet don’t get to benefit from the perks of being a walking, talking fashion advertisement. 
Allowing a clothing allowance is not a sexist suggestion and this is no question of equality.  If john Howard paraded into parliament dressed in a safari suit he too would have speedily been flashed a few big ones and sent to the local DJ’s. Not to mention the fact that conservative men can mix and match within a few smart suits while the wardrobe of a woman requires greater variety and thus a greater expense. (Nb. Insertion of the word “conservative” in the previous sentence is to pay homage to the alternative male of today’s world who seems to find more clothing items to fit his wardrobe that the average female does).  Fashion and Politics off course can’t get a combined mention without one recalling the media’s attack on previous Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating in the 1990’s for wearing $5000 Italian suits, clearly showing image analysis exists towards both genders.
Clothes send a message- often by not sending the right one. They reflect our roles, positions and yes certain aspects of our religiosity. “Dignified” is the word used by Rambam to describe the style of attire that should be adorned by a scholar. Similarly the Kohanim only fully attained their status of Kehuna enabling them to perform sacrifices when they wore their vestments. Torah states we should wear special clothes on Shabbos, Brides wear white to signify purity, Hospital patients have robes for no apparent reason, gymnasts wear leotards so you can see their figure alignment and politicians wear suits to maintain respect. Every situation has its uniform; it just doesn’t always come with cute petty coats and patterned knee highs socks.

It must be Gillard’s lucky day. Not only has she made history, gained the title of prime minister and now rules the greatest of all nations, it seems  Milan Fall 2010  seems to fit right into her pocket of necessities. This season saw the power and strength of women being greatly emphasized with a strong attempt to cater for the increase of female professionals.  Perfectly tailored double breasted blazers, sharp shouldered jackets, shapely dresses in oranges and charcoals, hand knitted and patterned wool dresses as well as recurring themes of plaid, tartans and stipes all served the sophisticated theme being adhered to. Female professionals however were just a small category from the larger scope being catered for, with on-the-go women of today’s day and age ousting the once popular tea party housewives. “Busy” being in vogue should sound music to the ears of full time mom readers. The life of leisure has been replaced by fast tracked blackberry buried heads, where illusions of busy workers adorn the likes of a nation busy commenting on facebook status updates. With the economic crisis still rippling its affects across the industry of fashion like all others, major houses are leaning more towards the more mature women, the ones who can actually afford high end fashion; producing a domineering look with a refined feminine edge. 

Image Courtesy of
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Image courtesy of
Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce

Work Attire 
Milan Fall 2010
Images Courtesy of


Burberry Prorsum


Miucca Prada

Louis Viutton

Nina Ricci


Enhanced by Zemanta

6 LadyMama voices:

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

omg those shoulder pads are huge,seems like Australia is still stuck in the 80's!!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I was having a discussion with friends the other day about calf length skirts (which they assured me are fashion travesties), so it's good that I now have reliable backup to my claim that calf-length skirts are all over the fashion world right now, and nobody will stare at you strangely if you deign to wear one.

Mummy dear. said... [Reply to comment]

Sometimes it's good to be the prime minister!!!At least your wardrobe gets updated!

Barbara said... [Reply to comment]

Mor, your writing is so good. I reckon your articles should be in a newspaper. Well done!! They are so informative and well researched. I look forward to the next article

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

Did no one see what Angelina Jolie wore to comiccon? She was totally tznius in a calf length skirt.

Mor said... [Reply to comment]

Mum, "Mummy Dear" is not a very anonymous name! Not embarrassing at all. Anyhow the rise of the calf length skirt is definitely a reality; however this is slightly clouded by its penetrating ability to enlarge the seeming shape of certain people's legs. It all depends on your figure. I recently told a good friend that I planned on wearing a calf length skirt to her wedding. There was a long pause on the other side of the line followed by a smooth "Does that cut fair well for your legs?" It just so happens my chicken legs do alright with such structures but one of the top mistakes I think people make is donning a garment simply because it happens to be the element of the season. Baruch Hashem most of us do not have pencils for figures and need to keep this in mind when selecting dear wardrobe pieces.