Dictator Chic in the Spotlight

      September 17, 2010 11:16

      Marking New York Fashion Week, the U.S. magazine Foreign Policy closely examines the dress sense of the world's dictators.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has turned from a marginal figure into something like an international fashion icon. "Could it be his look ... offers some inspiration during these austere times?" the magazine wonders in a piece titled "The Devil Wears Taupe." Kim's pompadour and platform shoes are designed to buttress his authoritarian aura, while his bulbous jackets apparently conceals a bulletproof vest, it said.

      Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez likes a military uniform topped with a red beret, a suit with a red necktie and a red T-Shirt underneath a red shirt. His fixation with the color alludes both to Latin American independence hero Simon Bolivar, "who frequently sported a red collar piece," and international communism.

      From left, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi

      The Castro brothers of Cuba set the fashion standard for "guerrillas-turned-autocrats," the magazine said, with variations on olive and khaki fatigues, though these days Fidel often sports a Carl Lewis-like tracksuit.

      Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad favors a "minimalist aesthetic," it said, and his penchant for dark slacks, shirts without ties and khaki jackets can be called "dictator business casual."

      Despite his country's killer inflation, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is always dressed immaculately, his pressed formal suits and ties apparently designer brands.

      Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi "is the ultimate dictator-showman," Foreign Policy says, flanked by beautiful female bodyguards and often dressed in flowing robes of Bedouin origin. During summits with African leaders, Qaddafi prefers loose shirts with flamboyant patterns, and diplomats at the UN General Assembly pay more attention to his clothes than his speeches.

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