Monday, 5 July 2010

Vladimir Putin - The Spin - Another Mag

The Spin | Vlad's Castle
— June 8, 2010—
David Hellqvist tries to make sense of the sartorial choices of World Leaders in his column The Spin

Vladimir Putin in combat Courtesy of The Kremlin
Vladimir, oh Vladimir, where have you been for the last few years? What was that? You had to resign as president of Russia and become the country’s prime minister because your time at the top was up, but you will return to the top job as soon as you are constitutionally allowed? Oh OK, good – things haven’t been the same without you.

In 2008, after having been twice elected as president, Putin stood down and became PM. Ever since, his critics have claimed Putin only supported Dmitry Medvedev’s presidential candidacy so that he could control and manipulate him, and it’s true that Medvedev hasn’t been as strong and popular as Putin. But succeeding Putin cannot be an easy task; the man has charisma and a well-trained torso.

Putin isn’t really famous for what he’s wearing, more what his wardrobe leaves out. Often that’s a top or a shirt. He seems to have affection for outdoors activities – hiking, hunting, riding, etc – where he can pose topless with wraparound sunglasses and army fatigue trousers. His predilection for military accessories probably comes from a long and successful career within the Soviet secret police, the KGB.

Another interesting detail in the curious case of Vladimir Putin is his fondness for martial arts. When he looks at you with the dark eyes of a communist spy and says, “I can kill you with my bare hands,” remember this: he isn’t kidding. A 6th dan in Judo, Putin would kick Obama’s skinny ass in a minute or two.

Because of Putin’s affiliation with the army and KGB, it’s considered OK for him to don uniforms and pose in fighter plane cockpits (flying a MiG jet is probably just like another hobby to him, next to bear hunting and torture…) – unlike George W Bush who never did military service and just looked like a twerp when he wore a flying jacket.

There’s no doubt Putin is here to stay; he will surely try to run for the presidency again, or maybe just puppeteer Medvedev into doing it Putin-style. His leadership has of course attracted positive, as well as negative, feedback. Former president Mikhail Gorbachev, for example, has credited Putin with saving Russia from chaos, and Time magazine crowned him Man of the Year in 2007. But, as one of his critics pointed out, that esteemed publication gave Hitler the same title in 1938…

David Hellqvist is the Commissioning Editor of Dazed Digital, a freelance contributor to Men’s Vogue and GQ in China, AnOther Man, ZOO and i-D Magazines. He also writes the blog Fashion in Politics

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