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Art & Culture / The Spin

Australian President, Julia Gillard

David Hellqvist tries to make sense of the sartorial choices of World Leaders in his column The Spin

julia Gillard as Rosie The Riveter, Campaign poster
Julia Gillard as Rosie The Riveter, Campaign poster, July 8 2010 Photography by Lyvvie

It’s an elite group, but to Argentina, Germany, Finland and the seven other countries that have female presidents or prime ministers, we can now add Australia.

It’s an elite group, but to Argentina, Germany, Finland and the seven other countries that have female presidents or prime ministers, we can now add Australia. At the end of June, after predecessor Kevin Rudd stood down, 48-year-old Julia Gillard became the leader of the Labour party and took over the reins down under. But Gillard’s political honeymoon could be a short one: since she was elected to her post by the Aussie parliament, and not by the people, the PM has called an August election, opening the door for the opposition to take back power.
 
Whatever happens, this is a first for Australia. Even if the Welsh-born Gillard’s time in charge is short-lived, from an equality point of view, anything is better than nothing. Also, Gillard has acknowledged the uncertainty of her position and her unlikely road to it, claiming that she had a bigger chance to be recruited as an Australian rules football player than taking over after Rudd. Apparently she’s tougher than most thought!
 
Aesthetically, the only thing that’s more eye-catching than Gillard’s pinstriped suits and white Anne Fontaine shirts is her glowing red hair. Is her temperament as fierce, one wonders? But her sense of style hasn’t gone down all that well in Australia. The press has gone all out for the politician’s wardrobe. Her first week in office saw Gillard sport a patterned coat, which an anonymous local “fashion expert” likened to a “cheap motel bedspread.” Press reports have indicated that the new PM went on a shopping spree, buying 12 new suits, shortly after landing her new job. Maybe she should call up Angela Merkel to get some advice on power dressing, or talk to Hillary Clinton about brooches.

David Hellqvist is the Commissioning Editor of Dazed Digital, a freelance contributor to Men’s Vogue and GQ in China, AnOther Man, ZOO and i-D Magazines. He also writes the blog Fashion in Politics

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