February 29, 2012

The best politician designers

Politicians and designers have always had something in common. Both parties aim to create a brave new world. With the assistance of election or advertising campaigns, both of them fall back on the feelings of the public and propose to it, each and every fashion or election season, an infinitely better universe.

The designers do it in the hope of getting the fashion critics’ vote of confidence and, particularly, the “sold” stamp on the clothes “chooser’s voucher and the politicians, hoping to create the design of Plato’s utopian polis.

Of course, every government brings along other politicians, other fashion (liberalism, socialism, etc.). Other designers, other bills of stylistic laws in the shape of emergency ordinances. Only the voters are the same and voice their aesthetic taste judgments in terms of “I like it/I don’t like it” with regard to both parties.

But fashion and politics cannot be reduced to mere background resemblances. Not even to the fact that Armani, Zegna or Oscar de la Renta are the politicians’ favorites owing to their rather more conservative than liberal vision as far as the cut is concerned.

Politics and fashion merge to such an extent that the statuses of the two social classes they stand for may be interchangeable. For instance, I called Miuccia Prada the Iron Lady of the international fashion. She runs a business with the ability of Baroness Thatcher, an ability acquired most likely in the course of her short-lived political career.

However, such career did not have the time to grow because the family had other plans in store for the young Miuccia. More precisely, a business with a sales figure of $450,000 in 1978, when she inherited it, and, therefore, a fresh profession mind-blowing enough not to bemoan the previous one. But Prada is still nostalgic about that period. In an interview she gave to the Sunday Times, the designer said: “Everybody with some brain studied and worked in politics at that time. I was not exceptional.”

And the proposals to join Italian political groups do not seem to stop popping. At least for the diversity of her professional activities, Prada said she did not rule out the possibility to enter politics. “Perhaps one day, when I am very old I will do it.”

On the other hand, her confrere, Karl Lagerfeld, does not even want to hear about politics unless it is funnily wrapped in a sparkly pamphlet. He does not shrink from making such statements. And he makes them publicly, in the very pages of the Metro, a free newspaper having Lagerfeld as global editor in chief.

As early as the first meeting, Lagerfeld showed up armed with caricature drawings of Vladimir Putin wearing a Papal tiara on his head and accompanied by a text reading “Putin’s Dream”. But he does not seem to cut any slack on the French either: “I don’t quite believe in politics. Countries should be run as great companies are. If only France were run as LVMH is run, then it could have the results Mister Arnault reports”, said the designer for Reuters, referring to the excellent financial results obtained by the Louis Vuitton Moet Henessy luxury product conglomerate.

There have been designers who entered politics, but then again there have been politicians who had the revelation to have their own vision materialized in the world of fashion. Odette Krempin (Zair), Vivienne Proy (Canada), Clodovil Hernandes (Brazil) are just a few examples of notoriety. Well, a rather local and perhaps a more political-oriented notoriety.

But the name to become utterly familiar will be the Italian Emilio Pucci’s name (1914 –1992).

Highly schooled – holder of both an MA in social science and PhD. in political science – until he listened to his calling and took up fashion, the young Emilio Pucci had joint the Italian Air Force during the World War II. He did not do it to fly the passenger line, but to serve as a torpedo bomber. Pucci was raised to the rank of captain and decorated for valour.

He was a fervent supporter of the Fascist regime and he was also close to Benito Mussolini’s family. When the Mussolini regime fell, Pucci put his life at risk and drove Mussolini’s daughter, Edda, to the Swiss border helping her to escape.

From 1964 to 1972, the designer held the deputy seat of the “Florence-Pistoia province” under the Italian Liberal Party.

I will stop here with the stories on the politician designers. But the story on the catwalk designers will go on.