For the premier of a car-crash nation to facet on the pages of American Vogue is not as out of style as it might seem
The obvious thought to say about Theresa Mays decision to allow herself to be seduced by the glamour of a Vogue fashion film is the fact that it ogles irreducibly terrible. Tone-deaf, self-indulgent, frivolous whatever the inclination , not one of them is flattering.
This is the narrative: not even Annie Leibovitz, mistress of digital manipulation, can restore glory to a “ministers ” who chooses to take part in a manner film while presiding over a car-crash society. A ruler anxious to look as if “shes in” contact with her just-about-managing fellow citizens wrestling with austerity and Brexitwill be portrait flaunting clothes that will certainly not be available in your norm Marks& Spencer.
Its no defense that the relevant recommendations was conceived in the pre-Trump epoch maybe even in the heady periods 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 strength unprecedented in its own history of the western world.
If that had been the entreaty( 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 agency in New York.
Now it seems likely that on her first call to Washington as “ministers “, she will have prepared the dirt for her meeting with a husband notorious for reducing ladies to objects by presenting herself on the sheets of American Vogue as, well, an object.
And that is not the end of it. Even more damaging is that her decision to submit before the eyes of “the worlds” to the narcissism of mode could easily become members of those defining moments: like Margaret Thatcher in the tank turret looks a lot like a cross between Boudicca and Lawrence of Arabia, this one misjudgment might readily become a signifier of all that is shortcoming in her prime ministerial mode. Here were women already perceived to lack tactical nous, a prime minister with no mandate from the electorate, a politician who, even if she enunciates the right thing, is currently conducting doing the incorrect one.
Where was the sage admonition that it has not been able to sounds like a good look for soft-focus likeness of the prime minister to be in the news at the commencement of a financial year that will remove several hundreds of pounds in charge recognitions and housing benefit from the earnings of many thousands of categories? What part of a prudent prime ministerial programme might include juxtaposing austerity with an look in the sheets of the world-wide guide of conspicuous consumption?
And yet, while all that is true, she is on to something important. First, British fashion 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 girl in the New Year honours.
Second, manner is on to a trend: the world has just got serious about politics. Last month Teen Vogue had a smash hit with a scorching ruler about Donald Trump gaslighting the two countries( to gaslight, it helpfully clarifies, is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity ), which far outstripped the second largest most-read peculiarity of the year, on the right way to apply glitter nail polish.
A generation ago, UK media strategists realised Girl Hour and the Jimmy Young Show were a more effective lane 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 passionate. The business of fad periodicals is recognise trends and this year, at least, politics is fashion.
That is not the same as went on to say that pattern is politics. Yet it is slowly becoming so, as the business of how women in influence express their political personalities starts mainstream. Leibovitz, the portraitist who did the American Vogue shoot with May at Chequers, is always interested in women and power and the power of women. She has rescued the Queen from societies grandmother status and recalled her regal proximity. She takes Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, both regulars in American Vogue( Obama has been on three cross) and makes them softer, and more traditionally feminine, than people would expect from their public attendance as representatives and associates of power.
Clinton was open about the conflicting distress of power and impression, and settlement by adopting the invisible androgyny of the Angela Merkel trouser dres. But May “ve never” agreed her interest in fashion to the demands of political assembly. She set out to normalise the idea of serious girls being serious about fashion too. She was in the pages of British Vogue before she had even been elected an MP.
She has developed style as a kind of political communication. Where her male peers might brief select reporters to trail a policy development, May affirms her goal with a fashion testimony that is often flashier than what she eventually suggests. Where she is cautious politically, she is daring( at the least, fashionistas might complain, by Maidenhead standards ). Like the vicar, the vicars daughter full-dress for the number of jobs. In a macrocosm where policy debate is conducted by tweet, a way shoot in Vogue might be read as a manifesto. If the prime minister has a future, it will need to be a good one.