Matteo Renzi has been mocked for his personal fashion foibles in the past, but the Italian prime minister will nevertheless brave the tough crowd of Milan fashion week later this month, becoming the first premier to open the event.
While Renzi is not expected to take a spin down the runway, the move is seen as an important show of support for the beleaguered industry, which has been hit by a slowdown in the Middle East and Russia and a drop-off in the Chinese market.
Renzi’s decision also reflects the image he consistently seeks to portray of himself: that he is a dynamic leader and the face of a modernising Italy. Indeed, he has often used fashion to try to make a statement – from the leather jacket he donned for Chi magazine while he was mayor of Florence (some said he was channelling the Fonz) to the “jeans and no-tie” look that became a symbol of his desire to shake-up the political establishment.
taly’s economic development minister Carlo Calenda criticised Italian politicians last year for their snobbish attitude toward the fashion industry, which he said was often ignored by the political class despite its cultural importance.
Carlo Alberto Carnevale Maffè, a business professor at the Bocconi school of management in Milan, said on Wednesday: “Matteo Renzi needs a bit of refurbishment as far as his personal style. But his personal presence at the event helps a lot in terms of bringing visibility to a national industry. The fault is on those who never did it before.”
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