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    Obama, Pranab and Mishal

    WHATa��s in a pinstripe? Plenty it would seem, judging by the brouhaha generated in the international press about Prime Minister Narendra Modia��s pin stripe suit. Only the gold pinstripe was no ordinary pinstripe. Close up shots revealed that it was the PMa��s name (Narendra Damodardas Modi a�� Damodar being his fathera��s name) etched on the navy blue bandhgala.
    It immediately gave much fodder to the social media mills. Twitter was all a-Twitter about the suit. While the PMa��s followers praised his dress sense to the skies, his opponents sharpened their knives. a�?Ouch! A narcissistic suit!a�? tweeted geostrategist Brahma Chellaney, while a British newspaper jibed: a�?Worried he wouldna��t know who you were?a�? Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post commented, a�?Ia��ve seen monograms everywhere. But the full name on a bespoke suit? Ca��mon man!a�? Others were quick to point out that the last world leader who sported a similar name-embossed pinstripe suit was Egypta��s ousted Hosni Mubarak. It was also reported that these custom-made fabrics by Londona��s Holland & Sherry start at $340 per metre, and the bill for the suit would have been nearly GBP 10,000. Indian fashion designers havena��t spared him either. From a�?ghastlya�� to a�?lacking subtletya�� to a�?not coola�� and a�?in poor tastea��, everyone from James Ferreira to Wendell Rodricks has weighed in on the topic.
    Obama, however managed to give Modi a sartorial pat on the back before he left: a�?Hea��s tough. And he also has style,a�? he said. One of our newspapers back home wrote: a�?Move aside, Michelle Obama. The world has a new fashion icon.a�? However, the jurya��s still out on whether he meant it seriously or spoke tongue-in-cheek. Therea��s no doubt that first impressions are made on appearances. And for political leaders, those first impressions are vital. No wonder then, that Modia��s half-sleeved power kurtas have come in for nearly as much analyses as his words.
    Not that Obama has gotten away scot-free. According to TIME magazine, hea��s come in for more flak for his dressing than his predecessors a�� odd, because hea��s generally regarded as a sharp dresser. But his a�?Moma�� jeans, occasional tan suits (a sampling of headlines on the latter include The Audacity of Taupe and Yes We Tan!) have shown that little escapes todaya��s media-savvy folk. Hillary Clintona��s love for pantsuits (designed by Susanna Beverly Hills) during her tenure as Secretary of State had also come under laser sharp media focus.
    Aware that she was a woman in a world dominated by hard-nosed male politicians who often got away with style gaffes only because they werena��t women, Clinton advised fellow female politicians to adopt Eleanor Roosevelta��s advice and a�?grow a skin like a rhinocerosa�?. Following her own advice, she often joked about her penchant for mono-toned pantsuits in every possible colour. She was also quoted as saying in 2008 at the Democratic National Convention:A� a�?To my supporters a�� to my sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits a�� from the bottom of my heart: thank you.a�?A�Her Twitter biography also describes herself as a a�?pantsuit aficionado!a�� Well, she certainly doesna��t skirt the issue.
    So to dress sharp or to dress down seems to be the question. Narendra Modi certainly seems to have made his fashion statement and everyone has noticed!
    m firstimpressionbangalore@gmail.com

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