It's that time of year again -- when Manhattan bears witness to the expression of the highest aspirations for global harmony and the most inspirational ideas for the advancement of humankind. Yes, Fashion Week - followed quickly by the United Nations General Assembly!
While one event captures the world's attention for its political intrigue, backroom negotiating, nail-biting suspense and life-altering drama, the other is the UN General Assembly. So let's take a look at it from a fashion perspective.
US President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak Thursday. His sartorial choices almost always lean towards Brooks Brothers, except for one "Weatherproof" jacket he wore simultaneously on the Great Wall of China and three stories high in Times Square.
With off-the-rack and angry voters confronting him at town-hall meetings, the president may very well wish he could be two places at once, and the General Assembly may give him the room he needs for some soaring bespoke rhetoric, reaffirming American leadership in these, our troubled times. It beats thinking about the mid-terms.
But overall, Barack - from the fashion point of view, where's the hope and change? The fashionista to watch here is First Lady Michelle Obama, who aims for simple elegance with the not-so-haute couture of J Crew - which may still be too high-falutin' for the Tea Party crowd. Attention K-Mart shoppers!
Another member of the US delegation strutting the catwalk of power is former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - whose straightforward pantsuits and skirt and jacket ensembles are nearly always in primary colors! (Seriously.) Maybe that's why Hillary hasn't entirely eluded her past just yet.
But with Iran inching toward becoming a nuclear power, Iraq without a government, and trouble-spots from Haiti to Yemen needing attention, are pantsuits the image the US needs to project around the world? Remember when Condoleezza Rice made headlines with the leather boots she donned shortly after taking the same job, in a look that said dominatrix-meets-war-on-terror? Even President Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright celebrated fashion by jabbing back at Iraqi President Saddam Hussein - who had called her a "serpent" - by donning a golden snake brooch.
C'mon, Hil! The "Hillary Doctrine" may be about the "American moment" and the pantsuits of pragmatic internationalism. But mix things up a bit. This year's asymmetrical hemlines say unpredictability! Keep al-Qaeda on its toes!
Of course, one of the most-watched world leaders to make their way to New York is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He dressed in business-casual on Tuesday, with a tie-less suit at the Millennium Development Goals summit - in which he declared capitalism dead. Hey Mahmoud! Karl Marx called and he wants his manifesto back!
But all eyes will be on Ahmadinejad on Thursday for his address to the General Assembly. Will he stick with business casual, or go with the "Members Only" jacket - the look he's sported so frequently since the brand premiered in 1981? That happens to be the same year the US embassy staffers held hostage in Tehran were released after 444 days of captivity - a siege in which Ahmadinejad allegedly took part!
Ahmadinejad will likely be dressing for sanctions-blocking success, as he maneuvers to
consolidate Iran's power in the Middle East with nuclear weapons technology. Is Ahmadinejad's jacket of choice a sly reference to his push for Iran to join the world's "members only" nuclear club? Will he be so bold as to block future UN weapons inspectors from the country, like he did in June? That line of thinking is so 2002, Mahmoud! And it didn't work for Saddam!
But let's not ignore some of the lesser pariah states.
Shifting slightly from fashion to personal styling, another favorite to watch is Zimbabwe's dictat - excuse me, President Robert Mugabe.
Taking Zimbabwe from Africa's brightest hope to international basket-case during his 30 years of iron-fisted rule, Mugabe at least has the decency to be the only world leader to sport a Hitler-like moustache! It's a look that truly says, "Only God can remove me from power."
Last but not least, a plea for a fashion intervention for Great Britain. The Brits' coalition government features, of course, David Cameron as Prime Minister, and Nick Clegg as his deputy. Sure, their dress-sense says "10 Downing Street," but they're both the blandest looking white people, you probably have to be British to tell them apart. They're the "Lands End" of global politics. Really, Great Britain, if you want to move on from the Tony Blair "lapdog" era of British power, isn't it time to break some fashion rules? Maybe Ahmadinejad can loan you some jackets.
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