Leaving her home in Le Touquet to cast her ballot in the French presidential elections on Sunday morning, Brigitte Macron put oned a sleek Louis Vuitton navy coat, with a face-flattering sprint of silver leather in the raised biker-styled collar. She was still assume damage the coat that evening, by which time she was the country’s to begin lady elect, raising hands in triumph on stage with her keep, Emmanuel Macron.
Ours is a visual culture. When we get dressed, we settle a position. Brigitte Macron, who has a longstanding personal interest in the craze and has been a Paris front row regular for years, knows this mere well indeed; that coat was a deliberate choice, and an exciting one for several reasons. First, the biker-style collar made it a subtly unruly look where, traditionally, political wives choose for plebiscite day dutiful, church-on-Sunday coats or dull, senior-management-meeting ensembles. Gal Friday, Macron has worn this coat many times in advance of, including – with leather trousers, that time – to Paris the latest thing week in March last year, so the choice emphasises Macron’s own grain (this is from her wardrobe, not by order of an image consultant) and activity connections. Third, the coat is by Louis Vuitton, France’s biggest treat brand, and reinforces her husband’s message of a progressive administration self-satisfied with big business.
Macron intent be the first French president’s wife to take a formal place in the Élysée Palace. The former teacher will have an purpose and a staff, and a remit that is expected to include education emendation and the needs of disadvantaged children. (She will, however, forego a emolument, mindful no doubt of what it did for Penelope Fillon.) So I expect you craving to know why we are talking about her coat. Well, if we accept that we as a system take an interest in what we wear – and a global fashion perseverance, which at the end of 2016 was valued at $2.4tn, suggests we do – then it is ludicrous that Oscar dresses and Met Gala outfits worn by twenty-something starlets should be pored throughout, but the style choices of women whose lives touch our own in uncountable substantial ways considered off-limits.
This election run has rebooted the optics of politics and fashion by bringing a little French polish to the table. The cliche about the French and English attitudes to wine – that the French can be experiencing a glass with dinner, while the English can’t be trusted not to carouse two bottles and be sick in the gutter – is echoed in fashion. The French receipts for granted that a woman can like clothes, spend well off on clothes, know about clothes, while simultaneously being a fully functioning grownup; in British customs, one expensive pair of leather trousers can be a stain upon one’s number, as Theresa May discovered earlier this year. (When Macron harassed leather leggings, they were commented on, but the French civil press did not feel the need to invoke a national crisis.)
This healthy degree of flex in the French relationship with make is what gives Macron’s style a relaxed allure that is in set up contrast with her across-the-Atlantic counterpart Melania Trump, a bride whose hermetically sealed chic thrums tightly with stress. Trump’s aesthetic itself borrows heavily from Jackie Kennedy, but also from that of Carla Bruni in her Élysée years. Bruni’s clothes was an Americanised version of French polish. The insouciant touches – scruffy locks, gappy teeth – that make Parisian style winning were Photoshopped out. Bruni’s suits were by Christian Dior, but in their unblemished, apple-pie perfection they owed something to Walt Disney. Brigitte Macron, on the other disseminate, has a penchant for leather and above-the-knee skirts, which reflects a distinctly Parisian way of dressing. French fashion-show goers noticeably transform into edgier rather than cosier in their style after 40. The iconic stylist and ex-Vogue redactor Carine Roitfeld, 62, has in the past two decades made the leather pencil skirt her signature. Longtime sport imitate and style icon Inès de la Fressange, who in her 30s wore mostly Chanel tweed, is now at 59 numerous often dressed in a simple black leather jacket.
Too much has been announced of the Macron age gap, which is, as has been almost as oft-repeated, exactly the in any event as that of the Trumps. But what is relevant to Brigitte Macron’s spitting image is that by coming into the public eye as a 64-year-old grandmother, she is fixed neither by her role as a mother nor by being childless. The preceding graduating savoir vivre of modern first ladies – Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron, numberless recently joined by Sophie Trudeau – made motherhood a pre-eminent part of their image. Being what the advertising activity insists on calling a Busy Mum is a great leveller, a point of joining that allows women living privileged existences of stuck households and private jets to make themselves relatable to the electorate. (Another way to do this is throughout fashion, as Sam Cam with her Zara shoes and Michelle Obama with her J Body cardigans knew very well.) Being a Busy Mum has evolve into a key relatable-aspirational position for women in the public eye. Beyond politics, the Duchess of Cambridge and Victoria Beckham drink seized upon it, and the identity can be seen played out on screen in Big Lilliputian Lies. It has undeniable charm, but it is a little one-note, and as the distasteful Angela Leadsom occurrence of last summer underlined, it has a sharp and excluding edge when petitioned to politics. If Macron can bring an alternative paradigm into participate in, as a woman who is defined neither by status as a mother nor by the fact of being childless, that force surely constitute progress.
- This article was amended on 11 May 2017 to fix the surname of Brigitte Macron.