Last Month in Fashion: Political Wardrobes, Anna Wintour Rumors, and Beychella

Does Melania Trump really wear the white hat?

March’s news cycle was dominated by the industry’s inner workings, focusing on designer switch-ups, the ever-churning rumor mill, and a perplexing display of web rage. April, however, was all about fashion in the public eye. We scrutinized what Melania Trump wore throughout French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit with his wife, Brigitte; we yas kween-ed over Beyoncé’s custom Balmain Coachella wardrobe; and we considered what will happen when fashion’s gatekeeper, Anna Wintour, leaves Vogue.

When Melania Trump greeted Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron at the White House last Tuesday wearing a white Michael Kors suit and matching wide-brimmed hat, many wanted to interpret her outfit as a feminist statement. Once photos of the First Lady standing next to Brigitte (who was also wearing a white suit, by Louis Vuitton) emerged, comparisons to Beyoncé in her “Formation” video and to Scandal’s Olivia Pope were quickly made. Was her choice of white a protest and show of strength, as it was for the Suffragettes, Hillary Clinton, and the female Democrats during Trump’s first address to Congress last year? Is Melania standing up to her husband sartorially by wearing a literal and figurative white hat?

It’s hard to say. Any Melania style slideshow on the web will show that the First Lady is a longtime fan of the non-hue. Snaps from her pre-First Lady days reveal her affinity for second-skin white satin cocktail frocks, billowing white dresses, and white jeans, blouses, and coats. However, by now, she has to know that the press and public will pick apart and read into her every look, though whether or not she cares is unclear. Remember the fuchsia pussy bow blouse she wore to a 2016 debate and the media storm that followed? I would like to think her will to wear white, both last week and for January’s State of the Union, to which she donned a cream pantsuit by Christian Dior, is a statement against her husband’s unabashed misogyny and disregard for women—not to mention his infidelity. But there’s always the chance that she just likes how a bright white ensemble compliments her complexion.

There was no mistaking the significance of Beyoncé’s opening look for her April 14th Coachella performance. Custom made by Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, the sequined getup—which comprised a cape, bodysuit, gilded headdress, and blinding array of crystals—was a clear celebration of strength. As the first woman of color to headline the annual music festival (which, thanks to her presence, was dubbed #Beychella on social media), Beyoncé broadcast a myriad of messages, the most obvious being that she is here, this is her time, and she is a force for the ages. Furthermore, that she and stylist Marni Senofonte chose Rousteing, the only black designer currently helming a major luxury house aside from the recently appointed Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, was likely not a coincidence. And what a coup for Balmain, who outfitted Bey with multiple looks and also dressed her dancers. Not only did the feat garner a frenzy of press coverage, but Beyoncé’s Balmain showstoppers were the toast of Instagram. As William Buckley pointed out in his story about Insta-scouted model Alecia Rodriguez and fashion’s new guard of designers, Instagram is king in today’s fashion landscape, not editors like Anna Wintour. Those social posts will get Balmain more followers and customers than a Vogue cover ever could.

Speaking of Wintour, could she really be relinquishing her Condé Nast throne? The publisher vehemently denied the rumors to Page Six, but that didn’t stop the rag from running an April 2nd story which, citing anonymous sources, alleged Wintour will leave her posts as Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor-in-chief once she closes the September issue in July (that’s how print publishing works, folks—we do September in July). The New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman published a subsequent article pondering what a post-Wintour world would look like, noting that her departure “would affect not just glossy magazines, but also the broader fashion establishment and the Hollywood-sports-fashion industrial complex.” Indeed, Wintour has, since being appointed as Vogue EIC in 1988, ruled the fashion world with a platinum fist, shaping how the public perceives the industry, pulling strings behind the scenes, and using the valuable pages of Vogue to endorse the celebrities and designers she deemed worthy. But, like they were at the end of former EIC Grace Mirabella’s tenure, the pages of Vogue have become stale. The magazine doesn’t have its finger on the pulse anymore—in fact, many would argue that Vogue no longer has a pulse. Many of the magazine’s top editors have been there for decades and seem stuck in a bygone era, resistant to change. Yes, Wintour has done a lot of good for fashion—for instance, she launched the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund—but how many more covers featuring Kendall Jenner (who graces the April issue) can we really endure? Another former Vogue EIC, the inimitable Diana Vreeland, once said, “You’re not supposed to give people what they want, you’re supposed to give them what they don’t know that they want yet.” Vogue hasn’t done that for a long time, either in print or online, the latter being a realm in which the publication seems to be a clickbait-driven follower, rather than an innovative leader. No doubt, Wintour has made her mark, but regardless of whether or not the rumors are true, it seems high time for some new blood.

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