You’ve likely noticed that many in the media are a bit emotionally invested in defeating Donald Trump. Even so, this headline from the Washington Post takes things to dramatic new journalistic lows:
Hillary Clinton, style icon? The unexpected inspiration for women’s spring fashion
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hillary Clinton looks better than ever this year. When she works on her style, it really pays off. But she remains Hillary Clinton and, as such, she’s basically the opposite of a style icon, unless you think boxy pantsuits and tented Chairman Mao jackets are what every woman is clamoring to wear.
Granted, she’s not running for fashion icon, but for president. Fashion is important, and good fashion will be beautiful and may exhibit various virtues, but one’s wardrobe is not exactly on the list of top 20 reasons why you should or should not vote for someone.
Having said all that, are you high, Washington Post? I mean, everyone involved in the preparation, research, writing, and publication of this story from start to finish is obviously high, right? The piece is authored by the strangely hyper-partisan Robin Givhan, and is the journalistic equivalent of micturating on one’s readers and telling them it’s raining.
It’s embarrassing. Embarrassing for Givhan and embarrassing for her editors. She begins by talking about designer Derek Lam’s inspiration for his spring 2017 collection:
Specifically, he’d been inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist who was so often described as ‘handsome,’ a polite way of saying that she was not a great beauty. But that striking face of hers, alongside her formidable body of work, made her an icon nonetheless.
Allow me to quote my fashionable friend Caroline: “This is what happens when you remove literature from schools. Washington Post reporters don’t know what words really mean. Literature is full of beautiful women described as handsome because they were considered great beauties.”
Indeed. Here’s the first definition of the word:
- having an attractive, well-proportioned, and imposing appearance suggestive of health and strength; good-looking:
a handsome man; a handsome woman.
Givhan was unable to find anything to tie together the fashion she saw last week at New York Fashion Week. She appears to have pulled “strength” out of a location approximating her derriere and then tried, and failed, to connect it to Clinton. After some nice (and completely unrelated to politics) pictures of some sleek designs, Givhan explains:
But beyond cut and color, designers are obsessing about strong and powerful women who are independent and enduring — perhaps even a bit scandalous. There has been talk of O’Keeffe, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, influential mothers and grandmothers — and of course, Hillary Clinton.
Givhan goes on about Clinton’s “influence” and the “historic nature of her campaign.” Did you know that Rufus Wainwright paused during his performance at the Michael Kors show to boldly proclaim “I’m with her”? I know! A celebrity supporting Hillary Clinton? Why is this not on the front page of the paper, newspaper people?
Givhan reaches and reaches and reaches:
But in a non-partisan way, Clinton’s proximity to the presidency has invited designers to reconsider the relationship that women have to power and how it manifests in attire and style. Designers have responded in ways that have been inventive, charming and reassuring. They have refused to be caught up in all the old clichés of polished jackets and below-the-knee skirts. And they are thinking more broadly than just another sleeveless sheath. Even Victoria Beckham, who founded her brand on a fitted sleeveless dress, has expanded her collection to reflect a woman more at ease with her position and authority.
Cue the cry against patriarchal oppression:
Their runway presentations call to mind a 2011 interview in Harper’s Bazaar during which Clinton talked about a host of weighty issues but also addressed a few fashion topics. ‘I have this Ferragamo hot-pink bag that I adore,’ she said. ‘My view was that I would carry it around only in spring, but it makes me so happy, I’m even now lugging it around in January. I mean, how can you be unhappy if you pick up a big pink bag?’
If a man can take time from his boardroom duties to yap about his favorite basketball team, his golf game and his vintage cars, surely a woman should be able to look up from her policy papers for a brief fashion reverie without facing criticism.
Is Givhan trying to say that Hillary Clinton is criticized for her fashion obsessions? Has her sense of style, or lack thereof, been a major campaign issue? Are women in general criticized for talking about fashion? Really? In what world?
In this race, of all races, I highly doubt that “women talking about fashion” is a major issue when on the Democratic side you have the Washington Post-declared style icon of all time (Clinton is also considered a fashionista in Kosovo) and on the Republican side you have the father of a fashion designer with her own line of clothing, jewelry, and shoes.
Listen. Hillary Clinton’s problems in her campaign for presidency revolve around her legacy of failed foreign policy decisions, penchant for lying, and ability to work a corrupted political system for personal gain. They don’t revolve around fashion, even when she dresses like this:
Classified email? She’s not even sophisticated enough to maintain a wardrobe. pic.twitter.com/CgXNVD2mI2
— BigHeadSports (@BigHeadSports) August 24, 2016
Here’s the most recent outfit the Washington Post’s “style icon” wore on the trail.
This was worn at a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Gala last week. The boxy, double-breasted, bumble-bee-in-fall-foliage, horizontal striped jacket isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s not trendsetting so much as safe and fashion-present. It’s very Ann Taylor-meets-more-expensive-version-of-Ann Taylor-for-older-ladies. No big deal.
It’s no big deal until you start telling me that this is the height of fashion and that this is inspiration for countless designers. Nearly every mainstream reporter in America is loudly telling us that Hillary Clinton is wearing the finest clothing spun by the most magical weavers and only the stupid can’t see it.
It’s bad enough when the other reporters are trying to sell this crap sandwich and getting angry when people aren’t buying it. But for Robin Givhan to try it on actual fashion is even worse. Funnier, but worse.