With less than a week to go before a brand new President of what was once called ‘The greatest country on earth’ — yes, America — is sworn in, the biggest question being asked is: what will Kamala Harris wear to the swearing in ceremony? And even more importantly, what will she sport earlier, when she prosecutes The (disgraced) Donald? From an unprecedented second impeachment of the President to peachy outfits worn by the Vice President elect, the world is literally sizing up the state of the United States of America. During the shocking invasion of Capitol Hill (come on, we have seen worse in India and elsewhere), there was a parallel ‘breaking news’ story burning up the wires — it involved a fashion shoot featuring Kamala Harris.
All sorts of political subtexts were being read into the cover of the fashion bible that has ruled without resistance for decades. Kamala was featured in a dull brown, utterly unflattering pant suit, in a particularly ungainly pose. I totally loved the ‘real’ portrait of an accomplished woman who, excuse me, is not a professional model. It was in keeping with the mood and the times — down to her statement-making Converse sneakers (I so hope she pairs them with her gown at the fancy-shmancy Inaugural Ball).
Kamala is a powerful symbol of all that women across the globe aspire to be. She does not need to look like an over-glamorised, pimped up mannequin with the full ‘fashion diva’ treatment. What was all that fuss about? Baby blue pant suit versus mud brown? Arms across the chest versus a more relaxed body language? Baap re — all this charcha and heated debate over a glossy cover? Can we not go beyond optics for once? Did anybody bother to read her interview with the same level of scrutiny? Most importantly: had a man been the Vice-President elect, would he have been featured like a rock star on the cover of a leading men’s fashion magazine? Would political analysts have gone into a tizzy deconstructing his choice of a tuxedo?
It’s surprising how the American public has supported the ‘fashion positioning’ of their first ladies over the years, and given it such exaggerated importance. Whether it was the birdlike Nancy Reagan in borrowed designer feathers (she conveniently forgot to return a few gowns), or the trademark pearls worn by the motherly Barbara Carter, everybody was all eyes. When it came to the ultimate trend setter — Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, her every public appearance started a fashion craze (pillbox hats, anyone?). More recently, Michelle Obama made sleeveless shifts a personal call for supporting inexpensive mass merchandise though it was only later when she showcased high fashion, clad in sexy off-shoulder gowns created by top designers, that she was dubbed a bona fide fashionista. The same fashion bible featured Michelle twice over as a cover girl. Much to Donald Trump’s frustration, his stunning, former model wife Melania, was studiously snubbed by the clearly partisan fashion press — a snub he will not forget.
The impeachment shenanigans are likely to keep Americans on their toes, given the long-term implications. Will the Trumps flee to some distant land to save their skins and escape charges? Media reports are talking about a flight ban, making Donald Trump same-same but different from our desi standup comic who faced a similar ban. Rich irony? Trumpji is facing multiple bans and dealing head on with today’s ‘cancel culture’. However, he is capable of turning all the hate around and claiming it as a personal victory (“No other US President has faced not one, but two impeachments!”).
Next week’s Inaugural Ball has managed a decent line up of top entertainers — clearly, Biden supporters. Trump didn’t succeed beyond getting a choir for his big day. We are told Joe Biden will be dressed by America’s iconic designer — Ralph Lauren. I’m guessing no self-respecting male invitee will sport a red tie —Trump gaya, laal tie bhi gayee. I’m hoping Kamala will wear a saree by one of India’s best. Or at least stick on a bindi! Come on, Kamala — your mother was Indian, even if she brought you up as a Black. We need that nod from you, okay? A bindi won’t hurt — sneakers and a bindi and/or a maang tikka?
“Incitement to Insurrection’’ is the phrase of the year. The spotlight is also on stylish Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who famously repeated her impeachment outfits. Nancy’s ‘look’ and perfectly coiffured hair will be carefully analysed for hidden messages. As for the macho pantsuit that Hilary Clinton brought into the White House, looks like Kamala Harris will make it her uniform, as well. Unless, of course, she too starts flirting outrageously with fashion (please do!) and begins flashing her collar bones and false eyelashes a la Michelle Obama. Nothing like a dash of — ummmm — chutzpah and daring, to keep dem voters hooked!
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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