At least something thrived in 2020. As women leaders take centerstage, historians will note this year as a breakthrough for fashion politics. In a US election year media focuses on the sartorial legacy of an outgoing First Lady. While Melania Trump is no exception, there have been plenty of fascinating style milestones in high offices around the world. Slovakian president Zuzana Čaputová became the first in Europe to conduct official ceremonies in a mask matching her outfit. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern drew nearly universal praise for her fashion choices and her leadership style in combating coronavirus. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin sparked a rare controversy in liberally-minded Scandinavia over her “topless” photoshoot. Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez continued to reign over Washington with her haircare, nails and lipstick making international headlines. Fashion and politics have finally made peace!
Margaret Thatcher is often credited with a kind of fashion revolution in politics. Her signature tweed skirt suits, a string of pearls as a business accessory, and a wind-proof hairstyle shaped public idea of a Woman-in-Charge for decades. “I stand before you in my Red Star chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up and my fair hair gently waved, the Iron Lady of the Western world.” While the former British Prime Minister has her place in the Power Style Pantheon, it is time to give credit where else credit is overdue… Her international political reputation is impeccable and with a healthy 1.5 million following on Instagram, she is a bona fide global style influencer in her own right. Meet Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany.
When Merkel took office in 2005, she relied on her academia-friendly sense of style shaped by years of teaching quantum chemistry at a university. In early professional years she appeared rooted in safe non-aesthetics. She navigated another male dominated field with a seeming ease. The professorial vibe was strong. By 2015, she perfected her trouser suit looks combining male dress codes with fashionable color choices. Many remember the iconic G7 protocol photograph from the Bavarian Alps: a lineup of dark suits punctuated halfway with a single bright sky-blue jacket. There she was – an emblem for the new attitude of women in politics. No more conservative rules! Pragmatism is not monochrome! The Chancellor commands the entire Pantone range from pistachio to cherry red and back.