Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Spin/Hugo Chavez column for

The Spin | Hugo Chávez
— March 30, 2010—
David Hellqvist tries to make sense of the sartorial choices of World 
Leaders in his fortnightly column The Spin

There can be no doubt that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has friends in high places. Actor Sean Penn seems to be constantly defending Chavez, American film director Olive Stone has made a documentary about him, and – to top it off – British Super model Naomi Campbell once interviewed President Chávez for GQ Magazine. Not bad for a man most people struggle to label a dictator or a socialist hero.

Chávez, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the Venezuelan army, divides opinion wherever he goes. We know for sure that the US doesn’t like him – and vice versa. Of course Chávez is more friendly towards Obama than he was with Bush, and Chávez has even claimed that POTUS Obama is more left wing than himself; a statement Obama probably wasn’t too happy with.

Hugo Chávez might be on fairly good terms with Obama, but his real political and fashion hero is Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The socialist regime of Castro’s island and the length of Fidel’s presidential tenure are both major sources of inspiration for Chávez. The Venezuelan president has been in power for more than 10 years, and it’s safe to say that he wouldn’t mind doubling that.

The strongest sartorial point to Chávez’s political wardrobe is his consistent colour coding. On that point he even outdoes Castro, who always wore a khaki uniform. But Chávez and his stylist have gone for a more Communist approach through ALWAYS making sure the colour red is part of his outfit. Be it a beret, a tie, a t-shirt, or several of them at the same time, blood red is his constant fashion friend.

As we all know, red is a difficult colour to pull off. Its strength and connotations threatens to out manoeuvre the wearer. Therefore it’s a testament to Hugo Chávez’s political charisma and fashion courage that he pulls it off. And who am I to tell Venezuela’s President that blue is actually his colour…

David Hellqvist is a freelance journalist for AnOther Man, Dazed & Confused, i-D,ZOO and a Contributing Editor to American website JC Report

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