President Obama has just nominated Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg as the ambassador to Japan. Assuming the Senate confirms her, you know what this means: the crowning of a new style icon. It’s not quite as big a deal as a royal baby, but it’s going to take Prince George awhile to grow into his Look and start influencing clothing sales, while Mrs Kennedy-Schlossberg will have to unveil her own pretty soon. Let the who-will-dress-her wars begin!

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If ever there was an event that highlighted the complicated politics of fashion nationality in a global world, it was something that happened last night. Specifically, there was a big party in Medellin attended by the mayor, his wife, the First Lady of Colombia, and other assorted luminaries in honour of designer Haider Ackermann, who held a retrospective catwalk show to mark 25th anniversary of inexModa, Colombia’s fashion and textile industry showcase, and who was given the keys to the city. Now, Mr Ackermann was born in Colombia, but adopted as a baby by a French couple who raised him all over the world, but mostly in the Netherlands,trained in Antwerp, and has based his brand in Paris where he shows. Which makes him…what exactly?

Apparently a potential pawn in the fashion game of a number of countries.

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I did an interview in tomorrow’s paper – it will be up soon on-line – with Christiane Amanpour, the ABC anchor, CNN correspondent, war reporter, mother, and all-around very impressive woman, that I really hope everyone will read (and I think that’s the first time I’ve ever written those words in a blog). Not because I wrote the piece, but because for the first time I can remember, a really powerful woman has been secure enough in her own intelligence and position; secure enough in the level of respect she commands; to be absolutely comfortable talking, at length, about clothes.

Specifically her clothes, and why she wears what she wears when, say, she is in the field, or in the studio, or interviewing various Presidents, or going to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. It’s a breakthrough, and I don’t say that lightly. Read more

Just as her former Presidential First rival is inaugurated as the face of Bulgari, Valerie Trierweiler, current First Partner of France, also upped her lux ante, appearing during Bastille day ceremonies not just in a bright pink ensemble, but with a Christian Dior bag – one with little dangling C and D charms no less. Check it out by her feet, left. These things in these situations don’t happen just by-the-by. So what do we make of this? Read more

The burning questions of: 1) whether Anna Wintour’s new big job at Conde Nast will mean she steps down her maybe-possibly-political ambitions and involvement; and 2) to whom she will lend her formidable bundling skills to now President Obama is in his second term have both been resoundingly put to rest – by Ms Wintour herself. Finally! we can sleep at night.

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Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic were not the only two men working at Wimbledon yesterday; Prime Minister David Cameron (left) and Labour leader Ed Miliban (below) were on the job too. At least they looked as if they were: in dark suits and their respective party-tone ties (light blue and red), they seemed as if they were on their way to Prime Minister’s question time, not the hottest men’s tennis final in years (and I mean “hot” in both senses of the word). What to conclude?  Read more

Look: it’s me and mini-me! Or me and not-so-mini-me! Ok, actually, it’s Barack Obama and Senegal’s President Macky Sall, in matching outfits, from the light blue ties and white shirts down to the two-button suits.  Read more

All this talk about Silicon Valley and the monitoring of personal data for NSA reasons has got me thinking about another rarely acknowledged supplier of national defense materials located in California: Oakley.

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The ECCIA, that odd-acronym’d unified lobbying association for the luxury groups of Europe, just released a new survey about the perception of luxury in Europe, and guess what? Despite Francois Hollande’s tax-the-rich scheme, and other austerity measures, it’s a lot better than you think! In fact, 75% of people surveyed LOVE luxury. To understand why that number is a big deal, know this: it has tripled in three years. Why?
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I wonder what the luxury world makes of the new French initiative to protect its culture in the digital age by imposing a tax on sales of tablets, smart phones, etc? They, after all, (the luxury folks, that is) have been promoting themselves as a “cultural industry” for the last few years. I mean, the name of their pan-European lobbying group is the European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance. In case you missed it somehow. Yet as far as I know they don’t benefit from any protectionist legislation, in France anyway.  Read more

Though much has been made of the fact that the luxury sector, which has been on a rocket to the moon, growth-wise, is finally slowing –Bain predicts 4-6% for the next two years – a new “UK Luxury Benchmark Study” from Walpole, the British luxury consortium, and Ledbury Research, begs to differ, at least when it comes to the UK. It’s full of surprises! Read more

LVMH, the largest luxury group in the world by an exponential margin, has a dumb blonde problem: it seems to be the winner in the sector, so it gets attacked and mocked most of all. For a long time, the Group’s reaction to the situation was frustration, retreat, and confusion (or sulking, depending on how you want to spin it). This week, however, they have gone on what appears to be something of a charm offensive.
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And so the morality comedy (tragedy?) currently being acted out in public over the importance of appearance continues. Last week at a fundraiser in California, President Obama called California Attorney General Kamala Harris “brilliant,” “dedicated,” and “tough”—and then added she was also “the best looking attorney general”. Guess what everyone wrote about the next day? Guess who had to apologise? Guess what I can’t help wondering? Read more

American Vogue may have Michelle Obama as their cover coup, but L’Uomo Vogue, Italian Vogue’s men’s fashion arm, has, on their April issue…Mayor Michael Bloomberg! I kid you not. It’s a little left-field as a choice, no? For both of them (the cover model and the magazine). So what’s the rationale here?

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Right on cue, yesterday Michelle Obama resurrected a previously worn Prabal Gurung dress from her wardrobe to wear for Easter Sunday. It’s not only a holiday-appropriate move, and nicely economic, but underscores the trend she set during the campaign for shopping her own closet, Read more

MIchelle Obama wears Jason Wu at the State of the Union Address. Getty Images

Shocking! Michelle Obama has worn the same designer at two major events in a row. At the inaugural ball she wore a Jason Wu gown as she did the first time round, which is shocking enough – the last first lady to wear the same designer to two inaugural balls was Nancy Reagan. Mrs O then wore Jason Wu again at the State of the Union last night.

The dress, with a black sleeveless top and sparkly bordeaux sequinned skirt, looks like a customised variation of a frock from Mr Wu’s pre-fall collection, which had a leather spaghetti strap top and the same body. That dress, of course, was shown last December, and will not be in stores until May/June, so Mrs O is getting it celebrity-early, an indication of just how unlike normal shopping her shopping is. I think sometimes we get carried away with the J Crew side of things, and forget that there’s a very not-like-everyone-else flip side to her wardrobe – good or bad, depending on your point of view. Read more

New York Fashion Week begins today, bringing with it the news that Occupy Wall Street is back and planning a protest. The instigator: Intern Labor Rights, an OWS spin off. The subject: unpaid interns. Seems magazines and fashion houses are exploiting them and not adhering to labour law. Seems the desire among youngsters to 1) raise their employment chances by getting useful experience in their chosen field; and 2) enter the seemingly glamorous world of fashion means there are more than enough kids willing to work for free.

Numerous tweeters have weighed in on the matter, most negatively, as has The Fashion Law Institute , which pointed out that OWS tried this before – a few lonely souls held a widely derided protest outside the Calvin Klein show last February – without much effect. Will this time around be any different?

Professor Susan Scafidi of Fashion Law said: “hard to tell,” but my guess is: “not much.”

Why? Primarily because I’m not sure Fashion Week is the most effective time for OWS to target the fashion industry. It might appear so at first – it’s when the world’s eyes are on the industry – but let’s think about it some more. Read more

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It’s that time again when we think back over the year, the time of a million lists of good and bad, of the best and worst, the time of “Persons of the year”. It’s that time when we begin to make resolutions and then debate the efficacy of these resolutions, and then resolve on either more resolutions or fewer of them.

The news that Silvio Berlusconi, once-and-possible-future-Italian-PM-candidate and always colourful character, is engaged to be married to his 27-year-old girlfriend begs the usual question: not “Wait, isn’t he still married to his second wife?” (yes, they are in the midst of their divorce), but rather, “what will she wear?” Presumably, it would be useful for a woman marrying a political player to dress with patriotism in mind – sic Kate Middleton — but this presents an interesting conundrum, because of all the big four fashion capitals, Italy has been the slowest to embrace that emerging and potentially very lucrative market known as wedding dresses. Read more