The Obamas had an impact on fashion. What effect will the Trump presidency have on the fashion industry?
Carrie, by email
Hello, readers.I’m writing this from under my bed, where I’ve been wearing my pantsuit for seven days straight now. I have drunk all the alcohol in the house so have since moved on to cleaning fluids. I’m seeing spots, which is what I hoped for because I think we’ve all had quite enough of reality this week. Washing-up liquid is my tipple of choice now, folks.
Maybe you’ve turned to this article to get a break from all the election coverage. Light relief, perhaps, or maybe just a change of tune. And I want to oblige you, I really do. But it’s hard to be all business-as-usual – making jokes like, “Ha ha, hotpants are stupid,” and “OMG did you see what Beyoncé wore this week?” (that’s usually what happens here, right?) – when you’re starting to eye up the oven cleaner as a chaser.
Come on, Freeman. You’re a professional. You covered the hell that is Milan menswear fashion weeks four years running – you can handle this. So what can we say about the Trump era – [gags on own tongue] – from a fashion perspective? Barack and Michelle Obama did affect fashion. In fact, Michelle is on the cover of US Vogue this month – again – looking so gorgeous you wonder how any models get jobs these days.
Their popularity among fashion folk is because the Obamas are genuinely – and I’m going to use a technical term here so have a dictionary ready – hot as hell. This demographic – “coastal elites”, as I believe they are called nowadays – genuinely liked them, and that made it even easier to hold them up as fashion icons.
Which brings us to the Trumps. Now, I appreciate we should all be approaching this presidency with an open mind and hopeful heart and yadda yadda yadda. But I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Anna Wintour won’t be inviting Mr and Mrs Trump to grace the pages of her magazine with quite the same joy in her heart as she did with the Obamas. I’m sure Trump supporters – and doubtless Trump himself – will put this down to “elitism” and “snobbery”, and that’s a fair point, of course, given Vogue’s well-known prejudice against Manhattan billionaires. And yet, despite that, Vogue has been a friend of the Trump family for decades, as is inevitable given that Wintour and Trump were both major figures in 80s New York so probably waved at each other across the Four Seasons every other day for the past three decades. Ivanka, Trump’s adored (a little too adored for the comfort of some of us) daughter, has been featured in gushing fashion magazine articles for years. And yet, somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen any more. It’s hard to present a young woman as the paragon of modern day feminism – she has babies … and works! And gets a daily blow dry! HOW DOES SHE DO IT!?!? – when her father is on tape talking about his fondness for giving women surprise manual smear tests.
It’s almost poetic, really: all his life Trump just wanted respect, and his urge to run was almost certainly lit when Obama publicly mocked him at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And he won! But at the cost of ever him or his family ever having any respect from precisely the kind of people he always wanted it from. Is this an O Henry short story or a Dilbert cartoon strip? So in terms of their affect on high fashion, no, I don’t think the Trumps will have much of an impact. Is this elitism or just fashion people not feeling especially fond of a politician who won by employing blatantly misogynistic and racist rhetoric? Because of all the things you can criticise the fashion industry for, it does, at least, employ a lot of women and gay men. So it tends to have a pretty liberal bent, and you can call that elitism if you like, but it looks more like people simply following their beliefs to me. I say potato, you say grab ’em by the pussy. Pass the oven cleaner.
As we know, politics are decided by celebrities these days. Which celebrities failed us this time?
Nadia, by email
Look, I have no appetite for the blame game. What’s the point? We will never have a woman president because a short-fingered vulgarian is about to destroy the world. But! I will make an exception when it comes to blaming celebrities and TAYLOR SWIFT I AM LOOKING AT YOU.
As we all know now, white women without college degrees voted for Trump. But you know who white women listen to? That’s right – Taylor Swift. Swift remained intriguingly silent during the campaign, which seemed odd, considering her much-vaunted best friend, Lena Dunham, was anything but. Even Swift’s eventual, and very last-minute, admission that she was voting for Clinton was made through the medium of a polo neck (it’s an Instagram thing) rather than a full-throated endorsement.
So why the reticence, Tay-Tay? Maybe she feared alienating her country-and-western base. Maybe her well-known loathing for Katy Perry, who has long been a Clinton supporter, trumped her politics. Maybe she’s just a big coward. Who knows? But you know what, Taylor? Making music videos with Victoria’s Secret models about how much you love female solidarity means sod all if you can’t even be bothered to speak up for a woman running against a raging misogynist. Walk the walk, Swiftie.
Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.