Simon Doonan: Every five minutes my phone rings and it’s a journalist asking me to comment on the fashion of the presidential race. And this always mystifies me because to me it seems very clear what’s going on here: these guys are dressing so as to be unremarkable; that’s their main goal. Politicians cannot present themselves as being ever, ever, ever vain, flamboyant, self-involved. They’re not allowed to be groovy because that would be in direct conflict with this idea of them being self-denying public servants.
Years ago, I interviewed this guy, a very famous guy called Sir Hardy Amies, and he created the iconic look for the Queen of England—that frumpy dress and coat with the matching hat. And I said to him, “How did you come up with that look?” And he said, “Anyone in public office, any woman especially, can never, ever, ever appear to be chic because there is an unkindness to chic, and politicians must appear to be kind and so must monarchs; they must appear to be kind.”
If you’re looking for style you’ve got to go to dictatorships—Kim Jong Il, Gaddafi, Bokassa, Idi Amin. They had fantastic style, they were absolute dreadful people, so that’s another reason why the Mitt Romneys, the Obamas, dress themselves so as to be unremarkable. But it doesn’t stop everyone wanting to comment on that. It’s very strange to me. I don’t know what to tell you. They look like flight attendants, but that’s what they’re supposed to look like.