Fashion Takes on Politics: Anna Wintour vs. Italian Premier

Jessica Hoppe

What comes to mind when you think of Italy? Incredible cuisine, wine, romance, the Tuscan sun, the canals of Venice and of the course the tried and true symbol of quality craftsmanship: MADE IN ITALY.

With Milan now playing host to fashion week we observe a change in focus — what was once a dream-like heaven is finally getting real and everyone including Anna Wintour is talking about it.

WWD reports Wintour wants to call for women to protest during fashion week against an Italian regime she would describe as “…in effect a dictatorship.” She went on to tell Italian newspaper La Repubblica:

“I am disgusted. I have no other words. I am disgusted and embarrassed: How can Italy tolerate [Premier] Silvio Berlusconi and his bevy of girls? On one side, there is the Made in Italy, the designers, the great creations that credit you around the world and that have no equal. On the other side, there is a political reality that is so compromised. How can you tolerate all this?”

Berlusconi, who has been in office since 1994, will go on record for being the longest-serving prime minister since Mussolini and is also quite conveniently the richest man in the country. In his quest for wealth and domination it is quite clear he has abused his power and as a result has been tried more than a dozen times for fraud, false accounting and bribery. Despite having been convicted he always avoids penalty through a technicality of statute of limitations or by simply changing the law himself. (He is on record twice for doing so!) By using his position in political office to build a media empire he will leave the country in dire economic straits according to the Economist.

As an American living in Italy in 2009, I took great issue with the positively flagrant abuse and particularly the degradation of women. This was at a time when his wife announced their divorce following the exposure of his relationship with Noemi Letizia, a pretty blond model whose 18th birthday party he attended in Naples in April. (She said she calls him “Daddy.”) Scandal after scandal broke in the months to follow which caused much debate but no action.

Can such a proud people and rich culture stand for this any longer? What are your thoughts as the fashion world takes a stand?

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