Yet Versace defends Dati and other glamorous French cabinet ministers like Rama Yade, the minister of state for foreign affairs and human rights, who looks like a movie star when she puts on a gown for important functions. “The idea that because you are a high-profile, professional woman you are not allowed to look glamorous is pure nonsense—and deeply sexist,” Versace says. “I thought we had moved on from that.” Versace certainly has, winning fashion credits for dressing Sarkozy’s ex-wife Cécilia Ciganer-Albéniz when she wed public-relations executive Richard Attias and expressing ambitions to dress the current Mrs. Sarkozy as well.
Look out, too, for more political figures and other leaders in fashion advertising. Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for instance, has already appeared in ads for Condé Nast Traveler and fashion brand Gant, which put Camelot in casual wear in 2006. And some are now setting the bar even higher. Antoine Arnault, director of communications for Louis Vuitton, says that former South African President Nelson Mandela tops his casting wish list for the French brand’s Core Values campaign, which trumpets the firm’s travel roots. “It would be a dream come true if one day he accepted to be part of this saga,” he says. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, whom Louis Vuitton initially envisioned next to Gorbachev in its first spots, is also on the list. According to Arnault, the invitation to do the campaign came after Hillary decided to run for the White House, so he declined it. “We all know that political figures, perhaps more than movie stars these days, are under permanent scrutiny,” Arnault adds. “They are stars in their own way.”
Arnault described an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Gorbachev spots: Fan mail poured in, and traffic in Louis Vuitton stores increased. “Politics and fashion mingle in dinners, parties, fashion shows,” he says. “Let’s not be hypocritical about it. [Let’s] accept the fact that the two worlds are closer than most people think.”
But for Doonan, that’s a collision he’d rather not witness. “I like my political figures to be frowsy and fashion-free,” he says. “They should be worrying about other stuff while the rest of us are indulging our fashion whims.”