MIDWAY:How politics became chic

Over the years, Hollywood has made some pretty ill-conceived overtures to the political world, culminating this week in Barbra Streisand offering her services as Obama’s adviser. But the fashion world has been no slouch either. At the menswear shows in Milan, Donatella Versace announced that her latest muse is Barack Obama or, as Donatella calls him, “the man of the moment”. This inspiration translated into a groundbreaking stylistic twist -- no ties.

“[It represents] a relaxed man who doesn’t need to flex muscles to show he has power,” explained Versace. Looking at the rest of the collection, he is so relaxed he occasionally forgets to do up half his shirt buttons, a technique that I think would work wonders for Obama’s foreign relations.

This must have come as a treacherous blow to Hillary Clinton, seeing as last year Versace was praising Clinton’s “determination, which will hopefully take her to the White House”. But Versace’s love for Clinton never seemed to have very firm foundations. In February 2007 the designer fretted about Clinton’s fondness for trousers: “I understand they are comfortable but she’s a woman and she’s allowed to show that.”

Back in Milan this week, Vivienne Westwood showed her Gypsy-themed collection, intended to draw attention to “the outcasts of society”. Tiziano Maiolo, a Milan city councillor, criticised the designer’s “romantic” image of the Gypsy camps, adding that “there is no chance for integration while men play cards instead of working and the women and children steal and beg”.

Westwood, last seen wearing devil horns at a protest against the UK’s proposed 42-days detention, is known for being fond of a political statement or 12. Dior designer John Galliano once sent out models wearing T-shirts proclaiming the heart-rending slogan “Dior not War”. Marc Jacobs’ New York store until recently stocked Hillary T-shirts.

The result of the 2004 election was not America’s finest moment and the war is still ongoing, designers don’t seem to have had a positive political effect recently. In fact, the behorned Westwood looks improbably like the most credible campaigner. Barack, I’d ditch Versace and hitchup with Vivienne’s Gypsies.