The Daily Telegraph
May, the fashion force, is with us
Theresa May’s comments in the current issue of American Vogue about her fondness for fashion won’t surprise British readers. But it’s interesting that she remains a steadfast supporter – in both the personal and political sense – in spite of the hot water in which it sometimes lands her.
In every other regard, she’s an extremely cautious, guarded operator. Yet when it comes to leather-trousergate or the kitten-heel police, her response is to shrug and carry on regardless. It’s almost as if she’s been schooled by image wonks to demonstrate a fluffier, cosier, idiosyncratic side.
Furthermore, although not given to overt displays of sisterly acts – like the previous female incumbent of her job – she made an important feminist point in the Vogue piece when she said: “Look, throughout my political career, people have commented on what I wear. That’s just something that happens, and you accept that. But it doesn’t stop me from going out and enjoying fashion. And I also think it’s important to be able to show that a woman can do a job like this and still be interested in clothes.”
Yes, all right, fashion isn’t exclusively a female interest, but the way it’s generally portrayed in old-buffer quarters – as a brainless waste of time – is nearly always in the context of it being something women (or gay men) are interested in. I was once asked to by a senior commissioning editor at a broadsheet to write a story that I didn’t feel made sense. When I suggested an alternative, I was told to “make it up. It’s just fashion, isn’t it?”
Things have moved on a bit, but the Prime Minister’s argument remains valid. Fashion should return the compliment ensuring its current interest in designing clothes for grown-ups is a long-term evolution, rather than a fad.