While some may see discussions about fashion as being limited to Hollywood celebrities or models, the fashion industry has historically intersected with the political world as well.
Fashion has always echoed whatever was going on in the world. During World War II, French Vogue was halted while American Vogue made sure to incorporate the lives of women aiding in the war effort. Fashion revolved not only around the issues of the day, but also around the women that were involved. Mamie Eisenhower popularized charmed bracelets and the essence of femininity. Along with Eisenhower, who could forget the stunning Jacqueline Kennedy? Former First Lady Kennedy, who paved the way for fashion, started the trend of pillbox hats and brought the French aesthetic into mainstream American culture.
With this in mind, it would seem unreasonable to separate the world of politics from the world of fashion. Especially in recent years, the change in political climate has issued a new generation of politically aware and fashionable people. Though the importance of mixing the two is not considered gauche anymore, the concept of factions has arisen. With the inauguration of Donald and Melania Trump as the newest First Family, the fashion community has retaliated. Within a matter of months, the industry has turned its back on designers who even thought of dressing the First Family.
Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion, is it justifiable to pick a side in fashion? Is it reasonable to detest the fashion choices of the women who happen to be Republicans, while in the same breath praise our ladies in blue? One would argue yes, it is quite acceptable to draw lines between red and blue. One man has even made a career out of this polarization.
John Binder, from Breitbart, feels it is up to him to address fashion in an ultraconservative lens. He often reserves high fashion praise for fellow conservatives, especially for the First Lady Melania Trump. Binder feels that Melania Trump “radiates in high fashion.” Melania Trump, who is not shy to show off labels, has been under the microscope since her husband’s nomination. Melania Trump has faced harsh criticism not only for her anti-bullying campaigning, but also for her lack of normalcy.
Binder is known for his best and worst dressed list following different awards shows. His best dressed list is composed of one thing — white women in simple dresses. The worst dressed is reserved for “outspoken liberal entertainers and women of color,” as reported by W Magazine. For instance, he wrote that Full Frontal host Samantha Bee resembled a “leprechaun in her shoulder-padded, emerald green ensemble” at the 2017 Emmy Awards.
Not only does Binder write about fashion, he also chronicles his opinions on policies, especially immigration. It is apparent that his politics influence his taste in fashion, but with a public platform, is this bias justifiable?
When one thinks of fashion criticism, one is often reminded of the Fashion Police, which was run by the incomparable Joan Rivers. Nonetheless, Rivers and her team of fashionistas did not allow political affiliation to deter their criticism. If someone was dressed poorly, they were dressed poorly whether they were a Republican or a Democrat.
Binder bends his fashion critiques to fit within his political party’s lines. His blatantly biased work shows that fashion concerns more than what is at face value, while also displaying the polarized position in which fashion is sometimes placed.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 13 print edition. Email Jalil Johnson at [email protected]