fashion diplomacy

Conflict and militancy may be first things that occur to many about Iraq, but a group of young fashion-conscious Kurds are hoping to help project a brighter, more optimistic image - and perhaps effect social change along the way.

Mrs. Obama’s dress choices were often labeled “sartorial diplomacy” and “democratic,” and they were that; she made something of an art out of pairing designers with countries during state dinners or trips, wearing, for example, Mr. Khan, an Indian-American designer, to the India state dinner, and Mr. Ford, an American designer then based in London, when she dined with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

As part of the fashion exchange, the designers experienced an intensive three-phased exchange program composed of workshops, lectures and master classes in both the Netherlands and in the Philippines. They also visited embroidery centers in Lumban, Quezon and Tagaytay, handpicked fabrics in Divisoria, and attended one of Europe’s most prestigious fashion events, the Amsterdam Fashion Week.

In early December Afghan fashion found a place in the Middle Eastern edition of Vogue magazine, lithe models posed in colorful, high-end gowns and accessories made by craftsmen from Afghanistan. The couture in Vogue’s pages was also featured in a United States-sponsored exhibition I visited here in Dubai focusing on Afghan exports, including carpets, fruits and nuts, and marble and precious stones. 

More and more, a country’s diplomacy focus has shifted to promoting its cultural aspects — food, fashion, songs and dances — abroad. These are offered as an important part of its cultural diplomacy, which is not only internally generated, but is more impactful.


So as not to miss any stitches in the fabric of international relations, leaders attach extra importance to what they wear during diplomatic talks, adhering to the unspoken rules of what is known as ‘fashion diplomacy'. [...] Would you be surprised, if I claimed that the dress the Queen was wearing during a State Banquet was more telling in terms of diplomacy than other political procedures? ​

“Another 200 people died in Syria today” blasted from the 11 o’clock news. [...] Luna, 22, a Parsons Fashion Design senior, turned to her father and asked “Should I be doing fashion? We’re sitting around everyday talking about $4,000 Prada pants that don’t even matter in the larger scheme of things.” Since that moment, Luna has designed her senior thesis collection to address the problems facing Syrian refugees as they make their journey aross borders to safety.

When Canada’s First Lady Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was photographed alongside The Duchess of Cambridge this weekend, her outfit helped to accomplish the next stage in her carefully orchestrated ‘project’ to promote under-the-radar Canadian designers. [...] This strategy of wearing exclusively Canadian brands is one that Gregoire-Trudeau and her old-friend-turned-style-advisor Jessica Mulroney have been working on ever since they inadvertently created a fashion moment with the cream wrap coat Trudeau wore to see her husband sworn in as Prime Minister last year.