Do fashion and politics belong together?

Do fashion and politics belong together?

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When Melania Trump wore a jacket emblazoned with ‘I Really Don’t Care, Do U?’ to a migrant shelter, her choice of clothing was obviously derided globally. It was a tone-deaf move but also served as a reminder that fashion is very much an integral part of the political conversation. London-based designer Ashish Gupta is a man who has never shied away from making a statement about current affairs. He tells Vogue why fashion and politics have always made interesting bedfellows.

“I have always used sequins as a kind of rebellion against the blandness of everyday life. In recent times, I think they are a rebellion against the dark times we live in. I call it “ fighting gloom with glitter.”

I think everyone has a responsibility to make a change or at least raise awareness. Ironically, I think the most interesting art and fashion comes in troubled times like these. It forces us to be more resilient and brave in what we choose to say and how we say it.

When the referendum happened in the UK and there was a vote for Brexit, it made me question how I felt about living in the UK. That season I decided to celebrate my Indian roots, to say that I am an immigrant in that country, and I am proud of my heritage, and it’s fine to be both those things. I hate it when people say, “We are a tolerant society.” I don’t want to be “tolerated”—like bad weather. It’s like saying, “You’re not welcome but we will put up with you.”

When the shock of the 2016 US elections had died down a little, I had to say something about toxic Trump. “MORE GLITTER, LESS TWITTER” was one of my favourite slogans that season.

Fashion and politics have always made interesting bedfellows. The strongest politicians always distil their style into a uniform. A uniform means less distraction, stronger message.

I always admired Indira Gandhi’s style. She famously made the sari a symbol of Swadesh—always sophisticated, starched and neatly draped into a silhouette that was no-nonsense and strong, just like her politics. She accessorised minimally with a man’s wristwatch. It was a clever understated code signalling briskness, efficiency and strength. On foreign trips, she would mix a slightly glitzier version of her trademark sari with a trench or a fur—creating a brilliant sartorial treaty. An East-meets-West gesture way before fashion started mixing it up.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton’s style gave rise to the ‘Pantsuit Nation’ movement. People still stereotype women, especially in positions of power, and it made me wonder if it was her way of saying she could be ‘one of the boys’. In her book, she wrote, “I … thought it would be good to do what male politicians do and wear more or less the same thing every day,” and that she looked “different from the men but also familiar.”

Trump, on the other hand, wears badly tailored suits. The hair is an unruly straw-coloured nest. His ties, scotch-taped into place, always seem to hang too low.

Fran Lebowitz said: “Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person. They see him. They think, ‘If I were rich, I’d have a fabulous tie like that. Why are my ties not made of 400 acres of polyester?’ It all makes him look angry, sloven, sloppy.” As in fashion, so in life?”

[“source=vogue]