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Fashionably Famous: Secretary John Kerry on Fashion

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By Politiquette’s Marissa Mitrovich: Politiquette is a place to be inspired by the art of fashion. Readers gain an understanding of the politics of why to wear–and the etiquette of when to wear–specific styles. Marissa Mitrovich founded Politiquette with the goal of bringing further substance to the dialogue surrounding style in DC.

ELLE Magazine and the U.S. Department of Protocol last week partnered to host Diplomacy by Design, a fabulous event overlooking the White House from atop the Hay-Adams Hotel in DC. Its purpose was to highlight the cultural and economic power of fashion as a platform for global engagement. Ambassadors and senior diplomats from more than 80 countries attended this event, along with leaders from the American fashion industry. I was honored to be a part of the planning team for this monumental event and was overwhelmed by the positive interest and reception.

John Kerry
John Kerry

The event began with a video message from Secretary John Kerry, “Virginia Woolf has it right when she said our clothing has more important offices than to keep us warm.’” U.S. Ambassador of Protocol, Peter Selfridge also shared remarks, mentioning that he has never felt more pressure getting dressed for work in his life than he did on that day. The real highlight was a panel conversation moderated by Robbie Myers, Editor-in-Chief of ELLE, with Robin Givhan, Fashion Critic of the Washington Post, Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and Fashion Designer Derek Lam.

From left to right: Ambassador Peter Selfridge, Robbie Myers & Derek Lam, Robbie Myers, Robin Givhan, Steven Kolb (photo: Zach Hilty/ BFA.com)

During the panel, Robin Givhan offered thoughts on what she would like to cover during the next Administration – a President who attends New York Fashion Week and honors designers similar to the way U.S. Sports teams receive honors at The White House. (I personally would vote for that!)

Also discussed was the role of the “hoodie” via Mark Zuckerberg’s style disrupter. “Could this look eliminate the suit?” asked Robbie Myers. CFDA CEO Steven Kolb likes a hoodie, but all panelists agree that there is a time and place for this look and they would not like their Commander in Chief sporting a hoodie to lead the country in foreign policy negotiations.

From left to right: Parita Shah, Marissa Mitrovich & Derek Alan CityCenterDC models (photo: Zach Hilty/ BFA.com)

The panel was followed by a reception at the Blair House with fashion presentations and exhibitions featuring: Supima Cotton; CityCenterDC; Madeleine Albright’s pin collection; Brooks Brothers – with President Lincoln’s coat; Multiple Embassy garments; Cuyana; The Textile Museum; and an American Eagle Rock the Vote display.

TAA PR did an awesome job with the fashion model presentation! It was a day filled with great substance, history and enlightening conversation about the frequently overlooked role design plays in diplomatic relations, the global economy, and bringing cultures together.

From left to right: Valentine Uholvski, Olga Rei, Liza Romanow (photo: Zach Hilty/ BFA.com)

More coverage on this event can be found at: Tumblr Fashion, BFA and Politiquette