Bishop did well to get the ball rolling for Aus­tralian fash­ion

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

WAS For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop over­reach­ing at the par­lia­men­tary Mid Win­ter Ball in Can­berra last week in choos­ing a $35,000 cou­ture gown, a price tag on par with the na­tional min­i­mum wage?

Bishop’s love of fash­ion has al­ways sep­a­rated her from the rum­pled pack in pol­i­tics.

Whereas po­lit­i­cal WAPs (women and part­ners) seem by and large hap­pi­est in low-risk tai­lored two-piece en­sem­bles and out­fits that whim­per “noth­ing to see here”, Bishop is in­clined to grab the lime­light in much the same way that Kevin Spacey dom­i­nated last week’s Tony Awards. For the ball she opted for MET Ball-wor­thy ex­treme glam­our in a jewel-en­crusted and feath­er­trimmed cou­ture gown by Rachel Gil­bert.

With that one choice, Bishop guar­an­teed she would dom­i­nate all me­dia cov­er­age fol­low­ing the event, eclips­ing the wives of both ma­jor party lead­ers — Lucy Turn­bull and Chloe Shorten — while also seiz­ing the op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote the Aus­tralian fash­ion in­dus­try, an in­dus­try that in re­cent years has grown as thin as the wine list at a fash­ion week soiree.

She also drew an un­fair amount of crit­i­cism for mak­ing a supreme ef­fort.

Aus­tralian politi­cians will prob­a­bly never suc­ceed in out-glam­ming their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts who at­tend the US White House Cor­re­spon­dents gala din­ner upon which the Mid Win­ter Ball is mod­elled.

We sim­ply aren’t as showy as Amer­i­cans, but that isn’t to say they can’t teach us some­thing about pro­mot­ing cre­ative de­sign as an in­dus­try. Fash­ion is as much about wow fac­tor as it is about sup­port­ing pro­duc­tion of Aus­tralian-made tex­tiles and the cre­ation of jobs. So while it may be easy to dis­miss Bishop’s ef­forts, the Mid Win­ter Ball com­mit­tee could take a leaf from the For­eign Min­is­ter’s book and el­e­vate the event by invit­ing other Aus­tralian de­sign­ers to dress our pol­lies and their WAPs at fu­ture balls. This would en­sure, if noth­ing else, Gil­bert’s cre­ative peers also get to en­joy the party.

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