May is first British PM in US Vogue

Mrs Theresa May's photos for the April edition of Vogue were taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Mrs Theresa May's photos for the April edition of Vogue were taken by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.PHOTO: VOGUE.CO.UK

LONDON • Mrs Theresa May has become the first British Prime Minister to be featured in the United States Vogue magazine, taking part in an interview and also a glossy photo shoot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz for its April edition.

She was not the cover star - that spot was taken by US singer-actress Selena Gomez, 24, the most followed person on Instagram.

The leader spoke about a range of topics, such as holding United States President Donald Trump's hand ("He was being a gentleman," she said) and her husband Philip's prowess in the kitchen (he makes a mean mushroom risotto).

She mentioned her penchant for the American crime series NCIS and tackled the constant comparisons between her and the only other female British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. "There can only ever be one Margaret Thatcher," she said stiffly. "I'm Theresa May. I do things my way."

Still, she was less punchy when it came to what she wore for the photos, taken in January at Chequers, her country retreat.

In one shot, where she was strolling in a field with her husband, she wore a £400 (S$700) scarlet coat by Egg, with a custom cashmere sweater from Sine by Egg and a pair of her own knee-high patent leather boots by Russell & Bromley.

In another, sitting on a plush green sofa and cupping her face with one hand (sporting bright fuchsia nails), she wore a £225 navy dress and matching £425 coat by British workwear label L.K. Bennett.

Some people may have pouted that there was not a higher-profile British brand in the mix, but Mrs May, 60, has deliberately opted to fly the flag for smaller British businesses which offer more understated, and accessibly priced, options for working wardrobe chic.

The clothes clearly stand for the way in which she wants her leadership to be perceived: low-key and unflashy yet alluringly slick and fully capable of getting the job done.

The reasons for such choices are clear. Next Wednesday, she is expected to invoke Article 50, beginning talks for a British exit from the European Union, so she clearly wants to be perceived as someone with her feet firmly on the ground.

Still, her fashion tastes have created some missteps in the past. In December, she was criticised for wearing Amanda Wakeley "bitter chocolate" leather trousers (£955) during a photo shoot for The Sunday Times Magazine.

Speaking about that episode in Vogue, she remained predictably defiant. "Throughout my political career, people have commented on what I wear. That's just something that happens and you accept that."

Ignoring British newspaper headlines suggesting her Vogue cameo during times of such political uncertainty was self-indulgent and frivolous, she added: "It doesn't stop me from going out and enjoying fashion. And I also think it's important to be able to show that a woman can do a job like this and still be interested in clothes."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2017, with the headline 'May is first British PM in US Vogue'. Print Edition | Subscribe