The politics of fashion: image matters

by | Sep 26, 2014 | A&E

Tonia Venneri
A&E  Reporter


The worlds of fashion and politics are colliding at the Toronto Design Exchange, Canada’s non-profit design museum.

On Sept. 18, the Fashion of Politics | Politics of Fashion exhibit opened at the historic Toronto Stock Exchange building. Set to run until Jan. 25, the exhibit offers pieces from world-renowned designers like Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and others. It explores how fashion and politics have influenced each other, with displays dedicated to Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, the Kennedys and the Obamas.

“I think one thing that inspires politics to really take more of a closer eye at fashion is just how people decide to self individualize using the medium of fashion,” said Courtney Hendricks, Design Exchange creative consultant.

She said women like Margaret Trudeau and Jackie Kennedy have revolutionized fashion in politics.

“I feel with her (Jackie Kennedy) being able to show her femininity, precision when it comes to fashion and just class through dress, she was able to sort of start a movement among future wives of politicians,” said Hendricks.

With school elections starting today, some Humber Students’ Federation representatives gave their take on what fashion is to politics.

“It is crucial that you dress appropriately for the position you apply to. If you want people to take you seriously then dress seriously,” said HSF presidential candidate Thomas Walton, 18.

For Walton’s first time running at Humber, he attributes his dapper look to Barack Obama.

“He dresses well and clean,” Walton said.

Former HSF president Tim Brilhante gave insight on how fashion in politics may influence voters.

“Image matters, the way you present yourself matters,” he said.

Brilhante, who is known for his suave and polished image, said it helped showcase him as a politician.

“I think the way I presented myself was very professional. I think that’s why students respected me and they voted for me…being dressed up and presenting yourself in a way that students can identify you easily definitely helps,” said Brilhante.

But Daniel Guddemi, 18, a second year Culinary Management student at Humber said fashion for him has nothing to do with politics, while policy does.

“Just the way you dress to me means nothing. It’s how you actually prove what you’re going to do for the students and make their experience at Humber better,” Guddemi said.