For the premier of a car-crash nation to feature on the sheets of American Vogue is not as out of stroke as it might seem
The obvious circumstance to say about Theresa Mays decision to allow herself to be seduced by the glamour of a Vogue mode shoot is that it appears irreducibly horrendous. Tone-deaf, self-indulgent, frivolous whatever the angle , not one of them is flattering.
This is the narrative: not even Annie Leibovitz, mistress of digital manipulation, can rebuild dignity to a “ministers ” who chooses to take part in a fashion shoot while presiding over a car-crash commonwealth. A manager uneasy to appear as if she is in touch with her just-about-managing fellow citizens fighting with austerity and Brexitwill be pictured flaunting robes that will certainly not be available in your norm Marks& Spencer.
Its no explanation that the relevant recommendations was envisioned in the pre-Trump era maybe even in the heady dates when it must have seemed a reasonable bet that by the time the pictures appeared in April, Hillary Clinton would have joined May herself and Angela Merkel in a trilogy of female dominance unprecedented in the history of the western world.
If that had been the plead( and who are in a position but sorrow its loss) then the smart stuff to do on 9 November, immediately after the call to Trump Tower, would have been an pressing email to the editors office in New York.
Now it seems likely that on her first inspect to Washington as prime minister, she will have prepared the dirt for her encounter with a male notorious for reducing wives to objects by presenting herself on the sheets of American Vogue as, well, an object.
And “thats really not” the end of it. Even more detrimental is that her decision to submit before the eyes of the world to the narcissism of fashion could easily become one of those defining moments: like Margaret Thatcher in the container turret looking like a cross between Boudicca and Lawrence of Arabia, this one misjudgment might readily become a signifier of all that is flawed in her prime ministerial style. Here is a woman already perceived to lack strategic nous, a “ministers ” with no mandate from their constituencies, a politician who, even if she says the right thing, carries on doing the incorrect one.
Where was the sage-green admonition that it would not sounds like a good look for soft-focus personas of the prime minister to be in the news at the start of a financial year that will remove many hundreds of pounds in excise credits and housing is beneficial for the incomes of many thousands of families? What part of a wise prime ministerial strategy might have been juxtaposing austerity with an form in the pages of the global handbook of conspicuous consumption?
And hitherto, while all that is true, she is on to something important. First, British fad is big business and the US is a big market. That is at least part of the reason why American Vogues British editor, Anna Wintour, was made a madam in the New Year honours.
Second, style is on to a trend: the world has just got serious about politics. Last-place month Teen Vogue had a smash hit with a blistering commander about Donald Trump gaslighting the country( to gaslight, it helpfully justifies, is to psychologically manipulate a person to the moment where they interrogate their own sanity ), which far outstripped the second most-read peculiarity of its first year, on the right way to apply glitter nail polish.
A generation ago, UK media strategists realised Lady Hour and the Jimmy Young Show were a more effective behavior of reaching ordinary voters than the broadsheets and political Tv. But this is something different. After Brexit and Trump, voters who for years rarely had cause to difficulty a polling station had now become heartfelt. The business of manner publications is discerning the progress and this year, at the least, politics is fashion.
That is not the same as said today way is politics. Yet it is slowly growing so, as the business to seeing how women around capability express their political identities moves mainstream. Leibovitz, the portraitist who did the American Vogue shoot with May at Chequers, is always very interested in women and dominance and the power of the status of women. She has rescued the Queen from nations grandmother status and rendered her regal presence. She takes Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, both regulars in American Vogue( Obama has been on three treats) and makes them softer, and more traditionally feminine, than people would expect from their public spirit as representatives and identifies of power.
Clinton was open about the conflicting press of supremacy and appearance, and accommodation by adopting the invisible androgyny of the Angela Merkel trouser dres. But May “ve never” confessed her interest in fashion to the demands of political agreement. She set out to normalise the relevant recommendations of serious women being serious about fashion too. She was in the sheets of British Vogue before she had even been elected an MP.
She has developed style as a figure of political communication. Where her male peers might brief select correspondents to trail a policy development, May testifies her intent with a fashion evidence that is often flashier than what she eventually alleges. Where she is cautious politically, she used bold( at least, fashionistas might mutter, by Maidenhead touchstones ). Like the vicar, the vicars daughter garments for the number of jobs. In a world-wide where policy debate being carried out by tweet, a style film in Vogue might be read as a manifesto. If the “ministers ” has a future, it will need to be a good one.