There comes a time when politicians meet other politicians. The world is watching, the planes get ready, and the stylists and assistants select the clothes for what can be a pivotal moment in these politicians’ careers. One of these important moments took place in Madrid during the last week of June. It was the NATO Summit 2022. This Summit was a meeting between heads of government and heads of state from NATO member and partner countries. These meetings focused on support for Ukraine and partners at risk, better burden-sharing and resourcing, a new NATO strategic concept, and Finland and Sweden’s historical applications for membership. (NATO).
The agenda included several important meetings as well as social and cultural events at museums, the Royal Palace, and other important venues that highlight the beauty of the host country. These events were a great opportunity for these political figures to introduce themselves to people they met for the first time or reunited with after a while.
Many of these important moments were captured in photographs that will stay forever in history. These photographs are full of body language and political fashion, so let’s take a look at some remarks from the NATO Summit 2022 in Madrid, Spain.
A photograph with 31 international leaders that is posted and distributed in global media and press is worth checking out. This photograph is for many viewers, the first impression of a particular political figure one may not be familiar with. Let’s take a look at some insights into the main photograph from the NATO Summit 2022.
Blue is consistent throughout neckties, shirts, and suits. As discussed here in Political Fashion, darker shades of blue communicate professionalism and authority but are also peaceful and subtle. These are some important qualities that these political figures definitely require in an event where serious matters were discussed, such as the invasion of Ukraine and reevaluating the strategic concept of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Some other important highlights from this photograph:
- Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau (far left, front row), is opening his legs a little more than the rest of the members. When your body posture takes more space than it should, it’s often interpreted as a way to impose and be seen as powerful. Why do you think you should take more space than the rest of the people in the photograph?
- Purple is another predominant color in this photograph. This color has multiple meanings in politics (In the United States, it is often used for non-partisan matters since red and blue make purple combined). On international issues, purple is often used by people from the feminist movement, and it represents justice and dignity.
- Among the several hues of blue that we see across the photograph, the shiniest and more vibrant hues stand out. Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson (right next to Joe Biden), wears a shiny royal blue tie that seems to be somewhere in the fine line between “formal” and “festive.” Not all blues are good taste and formal. Not all purples are playful and childish. Each color has a huge spectrum of variations and is worth checking them out before making important decisions when it comes to clothing. In an international event where the definition of "good taste" may be unclear, it's better to play it safe with subtle, neutral colors.
Finding common ground with the right shoes
The espadrilles are one of Spain’s most common and ancient forms of footwear. Ever since the 3rd century B.C., soldiers wore them on their way to defend their territory. It is a form of footwear that has come a long way. Because of its natural materials and comfortability, it often becomes a trend in different parts of the world under certain circumstances. (The espadrilles by Toms were very popular during the first half of the 2010’s2010’s decade).
But in Spain, the variety of espadrilles is enormous. When it comes to price range, colors, sizes, designs, textures, and heights, there is no limit). This is why these shoes are one of the most popular souvenirs tourists take from Spain at the end of their trip. There are many variations of espadrilles created by Spanish designers in Madrid’s neighborhood, Salamanca.
So when you wear a fashion item from another country, you appreciate the fashion of this place. You are telling the people of this country that you are admiring the items and the work that went into the production of these items. During these sensitive times, it can seem challenging to culturally appreciate fashion without being accused of cultural appropriation. It all depends on the context and the way you present yourself with these clothes.
The role of the First Ladies during the Summit was very important. Their professionalism and audacity during the event communicated a sense of togetherness and partnership among NATO members. This is not an easy task, especially when international media tracks their movements, body language, and, last but not least, clothing choices.
The Mean Girls wore pink on Wednesdays as a way to illustrate their friendship. Something similar happened in Spain when we saw Queen Letizia and First Lady Jill Biden wearing matching espadrilles. What a spectacular way to show the world that they are on the same page, have things in common and are getting along.
As if it wasn’t enough Political Fashion for one photograph, Queen Letizia wore a polka dot dress, a print she frequently wears for different occasions, which has now become part of her identity and style. On the other hand, we’ve seen First Lady Jill Biden wear many versions of Oscar de la Renta floral dresses, especially with this multicolor element and oversized proportions. This means that Queen Letizia and First Lady Jill Biden don’t have to sacrifice who they are to find things in common. They both wore a dress that represented who they are while finding common ground in footwear. Which, on Mrs. Biden’s end, was a wonderful way of appreciating Spanish fashion with respect and care.
They went into my closets looking for skeletons, but thank God, all they found were shoes, beautiful shoes.
The King meets the President
As we’ve discussed in the article What you need to succeed in your very first impression with someone special, there are many aspects to consider when you are meeting someone important. From the handshake and your smell to the eye contact and the clothes you choose, every element sums up what will become people’s perception of you.
President Biden doesn’t have a lot of versatility when it comes to choosing suits. For the most part, he wears a navy suit with a blue necktie, and for his encounter with King Felipe VI, things didn’t really change.
The King chose a slightly lighter shade of blue for his suit, matched with an elegant printed tie. In the photograph, we see the King making meaningful and successful eye contact with the President, paired with a smile. However, Biden’s look seems to be lost somewhere in the King’s neck or an object or person around the King. This situation received multiple negative interpretations, claiming President Biden’s disinterest in the encounter or considerable tiredness after several important meetings in Spain and Germany. Some journalists went as far as assuming that these two personalities don’t like each other. Regardless of the truth behind this photograph, it’s crucial to be fully aware of every action and movement we are doing with our body when meeting someone important because even the slightest mistake can be misunderstood in many different ways.
A polemic figure re-defining the role of women in politics
The First Lady of South Korea is a polemic figure who is shaping women’s role in politics worldwide. Ever since her husband started his presidential campaign, Keon-hee stated that she wouldn’t assume the role of First Lady; she would only support her husband during important events as her partner, but not as a “plus one.”
Keon-hee is a businesswoman and owner of Covana Contents, a company dedicated to the curation and conservation of art. Her career and personality influence people on social media, as she is also very open about her preferences when it comes to K-pop and K-food.
It has been challenging for the media to refer to her without using “First Lady” vocabulary, especially since that is her official title, after all. However, Keon-Hee has stayed true to herself, maintaining her company going while organizing several art events while his husband, Yoon Suk-yeol, is the President of South Korea.
So when the moment to travel to Madrid and meet First Ladies and Gentlemen from different parts of the world came, Keon-hee stayed true to her campaign promises and dressed up as an active businesswoman who is the partner of the President of South Korea.
On June 28th, Keon-hee visited the South Korean Culture Center in Madrid. She is the first Presidential spouse to visit since the center opened its doors in 2011. She was invited to see an exhibition focused on South Korean fashion. The exhibition, which will run till July 29th, features clothes by fashion designer Kim A-young, the founder of CAHIERS, a fashion brand that plays with Hanbok, a traditional Korean dress, giving it a contemporary twist.
As part of the agenda for the NATO Summit 2022, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez and First Lady María Begoña Gómez Fernández hosted a dinner at the Prado Museum. Some remarkable moments from this event were captured in photographs. Here are some of them.