Georgia Meloni chooses to wear Armani and generates a political debate in Italy

NEW YORK.- Italy’s Prime Minister wears Armani.

It all started at the end of October, when Georgia Melonifounder of the far-right Brothers of Italy party and head of the conservative coalition that won the general election, She wore three dark Armani tailored suits in the first three days of the formal transition of power between herself and former Prime Minister Mario Draghi: an Armani in a black shirt for the first official photo next to his cabinet, an Armani in a white shirt for the transfer meeting with Draghi, and another navy blue Armani suit for the third time. And so it went on…

Italian Prime Minister-designate Giorgia Meloni addresses the media after a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinal Palace in Rome on October 21, 2022. –ANGELO CARCONI – ANSA

Meloni wore an Armani suit during the press conference following her first cabinet meeting, where she announced, among other things, new control measures and crackdowns on illegal late-night rave parties. She and she was shown again dressed in Armani in her first meeting with the leaders of the European Union, which was held in Brussels this month.

Meloni dressed in Armani so often and in such a short time that her look began to become her management uniform, added to her short ironed blonde hair, which is already a trend and catapulted her stylist to fame. But that uniform is much more significant and less obvious than it may seem.

More significant because Meloni is redefining Italy’s image for the world, and in that context, every choice she makes matters. And that includes aligning yourself visually with the easily recognizable wardrobe of the captains of the industry, and with a brand that is a mainstay of the power dressing from the establishment: a decision that makes her look less drastic and radicalized than her rabid populism, politics, and gender might suggest.

And less obvious because since Trump was elected president of the United States and designers began to refuse to dress the brand new first lady, The fashion industry had never had such a publicly contentious relationship with the elected president of a country.

Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni shakes hands with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on November 3, 2022.
Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni shakes hands with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a meeting at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels on November 3, 2022.VALERIA MONGELLI – AFP

The storm broke in September, when Italians were preparing to go to the polls, Milan Fashion Week was in full swing, and several designers turned to Instagram to encourage their followers to vote, and to vote for freedom, openness and progress, and against far-right positions on immigration and traditional morality, including opposition to same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples, all ideas espoused by the Meloni’s party.

Pierpaolo Picciolibrand designer valentineFor example, he published a long post that in one part said: “Hopefully all those over 18 years of age are ready to vote next September 25, because we do not have to give up an inch of the rights we have won, and above all because it is the right moment to acquire new fundamental rights”.

then came Donatella Versaceof the house Versacewho posted a heart in the colors of the Italian flag and wrote: “Vote to protect the rights already acquired, think about progress and with an eye on the future.”

And they joined Stella NovarinoOf the brand Stella Jeanwho after finishing the show for her spring 2023 collection last month, grabbed the microphone to urge the public to go vote “because when it comes to civil rights and human rights, we are all part of the same party.”

When it became clear that the Meloni-led coalition had won and the question of who would dress the new prime minister arose, no one wanted to talk about it or offered publicly for the job. The Italian Fashion Chamber, the entity that brings together businessmen in the sector, declined to comment on the matter.

All of this matters because to some extent the wardrobe choices of politicians they are a statement of intent, an attempt to manipulate the perception of those around them, whether it’s rolling up their sleeves to convey the idea of ​​getting to work or white pants to symbolize women’s rights.

Meloni comes to office as a disruption, both political and personal. The eyes of the world are on her, evaluating her every gesture and every movement.

And the clothes, with their ability to take advantage of a popular language, it can be both a strategic communication tool and a powerful weapon. And the question of how to best use it is not a trivial issue, neither for the first ladies nor for the rest of the women, although in the case of women in politics the issue is much more complicated.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni

That is why there are usually designers who help officials create an image that connects with their electoral position, be it Ralph Lauren working with Hillary Clinton or Bettina Schoenbach with Angela Merkel.

But after the election, when asked her opinion on Meloni’s style, the brand’s Italian artistic director Dior, Maria Grazia Chiurihe told the magazine Milan Finance Fashion that “He doesn’t seem to have a strategy, I get the feeling that he chooses what he likes. He does not use the language of fashion.”

Or at least that’s what she seemed to do during the campaign, when Meloni was known for her affinity for pastels and apple green, and was often associated with her 2019 statement: “I am Georgia, I am a woman, I am a mother, I am Italian, I am a Christian.”

Now that she is prime minister, however, her wardrobe choices point to a different tradition and a remarkable fluidity in handling the symbolism that fashion entails.

Before taking office as prime minister, Meloni used pastel colors to dress
Before taking office as prime minister, Meloni used pastel colors to dressGregorio Borgia – AP

But not because of the old tradition of tailored suits in fruity colors of the political women of the past. On the contrary, Meloni has embraced the camouflage of the masculine establishment, even though it represents the complete opposite.. Italy, of course, is a country that has long understood what it means to project power, and ideology, through clothing. It is enough to remember the black shirts of the fascist party of mussolinifrom whose ashes arose and grew the political parties where Meloni was started, formed and militated.

“Now that she is prime minister, she wants to assert herself through her ideas and her policies”, points out María Luisa Frisa, professor of fashion theory and curatorship at the IUAV University of Venice. “That’s why Meloni wears an unquestionable suit, which seems to blend in with the environment, but which has long been the typical ensemble of the Hollywood executive, the first choice of anyone who wants to be taken seriously.”

The Armani name is recognizable worldwide and is an advertisement in itself for the power of seduction and success of “Made in Italy”, a concept that is also one of the mainstays of Meloni’s nationalism. In fact, the new Prime Minister created a new ministerial post to deal with “Made in Italy Companies”. By wearing Armani clothing, Meloni implicitly unites the brand’s power with her own, co-opting it for her own ends.

Meloni literally bought what Armani stands for entering one of their stores and purchasing their costumes with the help of a local vendoras reported by the fashion company.

The brand had no further comment or posted photos of Meloni in the suits on its Instagram account., although on other occasions he has shared photos of other public figures wearing brand clothing, including singer Bruno Mars. In any case, we must not forget that in 2017, when the fashion world was on edge over the issue of Melania Trump, the designer Giorgio Armani told WWD that “My job is to dress people, no matter who they are, and that goes beyond politics.”

It may be an increasingly difficult argument to defend.

By Vanessa Friedmann

Translation by Jaime Arrambide

The New York Times

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Georgia Meloni chooses to wear Armani and generates a political debate in Italy