Monday, 15 November 2010

Hamid Karzai - The Spin - AnOther Mag

The Spin | Hamid Karzai, Afghan President
— August 24, 2010—
David Hellqvist tries to make sense of the sartorial choices of World Leaders in his column The Spin

Once labelled “the most chic man in the world” by Tom Ford, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has a lot to live up to. Since taking power shortly after the US-led invasion in 2001, Karzai has of course had many pressing matters to attend to that are more important than his early morning wardrobe decisions. But there’s no doubt that Mr Karzai is very effective at pursuing and entertaining an image of himself, something that – intentionally or not – is strong enough to grant him coverage in The New Statesman, as well as GQ magazine.

Anyone – politician or otherwise – who cultivates a trademark look is anxious to be associated with a certain aesthetic, and this – as we know – is more often than not a good thing in politics. In Karzai’s case it is, of course, his astrakhan hat that has gained him attention. Headwear in general is unusual on the political stage, bar Castro’s army cap and Boris Yeltsin’s giant Russian fur hats. But that makes his sartorial stance even stronger: the Karakul sheepskin hat – even though it’s probably a national staple piece – has gained him international admirers and fashion icon status, as Tom Ford’s statement proves.

Add to that Karzai’s silver-grey hair and beard, a subtle colour palette of stylish khakis and blue-grey tones, and a seemingly endless collection of Nehru-collar shirts. The latter and his general state of tie-lessness is a by-product of anti-western dress customs in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, but it provides an excellent platform to build and develop a forward-thinking and unique wardrobe befitting a statesman. The only downside to Hamid Karzai’s hat, and indirectly his whole look, is that the karakul wool comes from aborted lamb foetuses… The price we pay for fashion, eh!

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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