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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Sartorially correct: Leaders that set fashion trends

Richa S Carneiro Alphonso, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 06, 2014
First Published: 17:18 IST(6/8/2014) | Last Updated: 17:47 IST(6/8/2014)

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has roped in designer Troy Costa to give him a new wardrobe, he already has a style statement to his name. The ‘Modi kurta’ is a trend that is being widely followed across the country. “It is becoming quite popular among the youth, who are embracing this traditional trend with their own twist,” says designer Anita Dongre. But our PM isn’t alone. We take a look at other trend-setting world leaders over time.

Jawaharlal Nehru
Our first Prime Minister’s staple Mandarin-collared jacket, now popular as the Nehru jacket, is the perfect amalgamation of a traditional and a western coat. The trend was popularised in the west by Bond movies like Dr. No (1962) and Octopussy (1983), and even by The Beatles. Designer Neeta Lulla feels the jacket is a norm for politicians these days. “It’s a classic, which even international designers have picked up. It’s versatile and can be worn with pants for a western look, and with salwars or dhotis as a traditional outfit,” she says.
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Margaret Thatcher
Britain’s only female Prime Minister was a regular on the international best-dressed lists, thereby inspiring several trends — from her power-dressing suits and pussy-bow blouses to her pearls and solid handbags. “She wore very polished and posh clothing with her signature pearl necklace. The whole look was about Margaret’s grace,” says designer Abdul Halder.
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John F Kennedy
He popularised the Ivy League look with slim, two-button suits, French-cuffed button-down shirts and silk ties. “His timeless fashion statements emulated a classic James Dean-type stylishness. A simple white shirt worn close to the body with practical sunglasses was his freestyle, semi-formal look. The narrow, black tie and a fitted suit are still reminders of his global fashion impact,” says designer Raghavendra Rathore.
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Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
The Argentine-Cuban revolutionary and guerrilla leader not only inspired a rugged paramilitary look with a beret and long hair, he literally went on to become a subculture that defined nonconformity. About the ‘Che chic’ impact, Halder says, “He had a look that blended with his soldiers and projected him as one of them, yet showed them the power of a true leader.”
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Stylish better halves

Carla Bruni
Style comes easy to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni. The former model upped her style quotient when she married Sarkozy. Halder says, “Coming across all the paparazzi, and being a model, she always had oomph. But even in her First Lady role, she made style statements like late princess Diana.”
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Queen Rania of Jordan
The wife of King Abdullah II is very graceful. Halder, who has had the opportunity to design for her, says, “She is gorgeous, very classy and very posh. She makes sure she is always dressed up to the mark. Her style is subtle yet powerful.”
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Hillary Clinton
Bill Clinton's wife was an impeccably dressed First Lady. She made pantsuits and her immaculate hairstyle popular around the world. “Her wit and intelligence translate into her dressing. It’s subtle yet powerful,” says Halder.
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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Her pillbox hats, gowns, oversized sunglasses, patterned headscarves and pearls defined her look. “Jackie had a polished dressing sense that seemed upmarket yet approachable. Her finesse is unmatched,” says Halder about President Kennedy’s wife, a style icon in the ’60s.
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