Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dress for success - the French way

It’s not easy being a powerful woman. Ask any of us in higher management positions.
Apart from performance pressure, we are also judged on our looks and outfits. Our male counterparts can show up in the same boring business suits day after day, growing beer bellies and losing their hair – but not us! We have to be “representative” without being “provocative”.
It’s the female powerhouses that get the most heat: Oprah has been ridiculed for her weight swings and fashion sense, while Dr. Phil Phony can be shabbily dressed and pudgy. Hillary Clinton is made fun of due to her trademark pantsuits, while Obama can drape his lanky frame with the same old, same old boring suit – go figure.
So I admire women in power that don’t give a damn and do as they please, especially if they are politicians with non-stop media scrutiny.
In the US, Condoleezza Rice is pushing the envelope in contrast to first lady Laura Bush.
In Europe, the only country where female politicians have this “je ne sais quoi” is not Italy (the Mecca of the Alta Moda), but France.
The most glamorous of the bunch is Rachida Dati (yes, that’s IS her real family name!) France’s Minister of Justice who, in her early forties, flatly refuses to go dowdy. When criticized for her addiction to designer rags, she replied that as the high-achieving daughter of poor immigrants, she had earned her Dior dresses. Way to go, amica!
Let’s face it, if Robespierre cum suis would have been female, they would have added “élégance” to liberté, égalité and fraternité (and less well-coiffed heads would have been severed).
Ms. Dati is the darling of her boss, French president Sarkozy who refers to her as “ma beurette” (French slang for a female immigrant from the Maghreb region -Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and not for “my little buttercup”).
But she is not the only glam puss - Christine Lagarde, France’s Finance and Employment Minister favors Chanel for state events, while the Senegalese-born Human Rights Minister, Rama Yade, likes to be decked out in Yves Saint Laurent.
And trust me; all of them are taken seriously!
We all know that clothes maketh the man – just take a look at the rigid power dressing code in ancient Rome. And the same applies to women – just ask Angela Merkel when she was running for Prime Minister.

For now, we less high-profiled women have to keep the delicate balance at work between excelling at our job while dressing as we please.
I just wish I was a French cabinet minister…..and being able to borrow haute couture!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How bad is Eliot Spitzer? Not bad at all if you think about it!

Just look at the facts.

One: Eliot Spitzer was having consenting sex with an adult woman. To boost the local economy, he paid her – which is a Good Thing. Not sure if an invoice for sexual favors includes sales tax or VAT in the State of New York – but if so, it benefits the governmental coffers. If our Spitzer-Bub filed it on his tax form as personal and not business expenses, the IRS will be happy, so no harm done there.
In short, our Eliot kept one woman from being on the dole while keeping the bucks rolling. (I wonder if she voted for him….)
We can furthermore assume that some peripheral items were involved in this encounter, including food, drinks and protection, and may be also some recreational items – Eliot looks like a guy who is into that kind of stuff. This benefits local merchants - again, a Good Thing!

Two: Spitzer is not exactly the best governor NY ever had. He just started his term, so his political elimination is a godsend! Let that nice Lt. Gov. David Paterson take over. He might not be the Sheriff of Wall Street, but he looks like a decent bloke.

Three: It makes the best news fodder since Clinton shared a cigar with Monica.
Let’s face it, the Death Match between the she-Clinton and Obama is getting ugly, Britney Spears as an ongoing train wreck is too boring and the Hilton chick is not so hot anymore, while the War on Terror gets as much coverage as my lazy cat.
Watching Silda Spitzer (nee Wall) during the press conference – that’s entertaining!
The elegant Harvard lawyer stood by her man, abide with a hubbycidal look in her eyes. With the rest of the world, I wonder how Sildaleh will handle it. The She-Clinton not only survived her scorned wife episode but even went on to push for becoming the most powerful woman in the world (move over Oprah), with cheating hubby in the Nancy Reagan role.
At the other side of the pond, the British wives suffering from the same loose pants fallout handle it with a stiff upper lip, serving tea to the newshounds camping outside their houses.

Four: It makes the French look good. After relentlessly slamming Sarkozy, the Americans outdid themselves with this one! You can say a lot about Monsieur le President, but he at least didn’t pay for Bruni….well, maybe he will down the line in hefty alimony, but Mme Sarkozy doesn’t charge her hubby per hour…..
What can I say? Eliot makes Sarkozy look like a standup guy! Ah, the irony……

Five: It creates a golden marketing opportunity for Las Vegas – where prostitution is (sort of) legal. Can you just see the ads? Las Vegas – the city where politicians can frolic FBI-free!
It is still a mystery to me why ES didn’t hop on a plane to Sin City, hire the top floor of say, the Wynn, and have a party there with the ladies of the night…..

So you see, we should not be too hard on Eliot Spitzer – in the end, he entertains us all!
(And we don’t even have to pay for it!)