For a female foreign minister, what matters more: her speeches, or her style?
Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s three-day visit to India, which concludes today, has proven that clothing really does have the power to capture the public’s attention—and its criticism.
The Price of Style
During her short trip, Khar stood out from the crowd in several elegant ensembles. Her black Hermès Birkin bag, Roberto Cavalli shades and Jimmy Choo heels were among the accessories singled out for scrutiny.
The Birkin tote, which is a limited-edition bag, is estimated to be worth $10,000 to $15,000, while the shades and the heels cost Khar over $1,400.
On previous occasions, Khar has been spotted carrying bags from other high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Prada and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Fashion Under Fire
The moment that Khar stepped off the airplane in India wearing a neat blue dupatta, a single strand of pearls and her Hermes bag, her style choices drew criticism.
Sagarika Ghose, an Indian journalist, author and television anchor, highlighted the contrast between Khar’s pricey purchases and her home country’s poverty.
On Twitter she tweeted disapprovingly, “Hina Rabbani Khar is beautiful but obviously part of disconnected Pak elite. 10 thou $ Hermes bag when country devastated? not the right note.”
Many others, however, lauded Khar’s fashionable appearance.
Aamna Isani, a senior fashion journalist from Pakistan, said that it was “good to know that a Pakistani leader is emerging as a style icon” joining the ranks of Benazir Bhutto, who “represented a perfect mixture of style and grace.”
“When it comes to designer brands, this is not the first time a Pakistani leader has come out with such an image,” Isani added. “Pakistan leaders have always been very stylish and fashion-conscious—from Mohammad Ali Jinnah to Bhutto … so why fuss over Khar’s style?”
What do you think, LearnVesters: Should we fuss over Hina Rabbani Khar’s fashion? Post your two cents in the comments below.
(To read about other female politicians, see our article about Thailand’s first female prime minister, or learn about the Sarah Palin Syndrome.)