No debate, Hillary's the clear fashion winner

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wore a bright red pantsuit and Republican nominee Donald Trump wore a conflower blue tie with his suit to the debate.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wore a bright red pantsuit and Republican nominee Donald Trump wore a conflower blue tie with his suit to the debate.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • At 3am on Tuesday, the streets near the Champs-Elysees were eerily silent, the stillness punctuated only by the rolling shutters of brasseries being drawn down by weary waiters, the occasional moped engine or faraway siren and the click-clack of a policeman's boots on the sidewalk as he stood on duty, rifle firmly in hand.

But in the Cigar Room at the Peninsula Hotel, a different kind of scene was unfolding. A select group of American fashion folk, in the city for Paris Fashion Week's womenswear collections, had gathered to watch the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. There were deep leather armchairs, mood lighting and an exceptional French chardonnay. More than half the people in the room were in their pyjamas, though no one had been to bed.

"There was never any doubt in my mind that I would stay up tonight. This is just too important, and there is too much at stake when it comes to the outcome of this race," said Mr Michael Carl, the fashion market director of Vanity Fair magazine, who had organised the night a few days before while he was at the Milan shows. "Yes, we are exhausted given the show schedule, but it is absolutely worth it. It is so important to stay connected and feel part of the conversation, especially when we are far from home."

He was not the only one who thought so. And from the array of whoops and boos (and the occasional peal of laughter, which ricocheted down the hotel's white marble hallways), it was clear from the start whose side the attendees were on.

"She looks presidential, doesn't she? I think she looks fantastic," said Mr Joseph Errico, the fashion director at Nylon magazine. Clad in an oversized Supreme T-shirt with "Whatever" emblazoned across the front, he scrolled through Instagram looking at some of Clinton's earlier outfit choices with Ms Rebecca Ramsey, the style director of the Cut, who sported comfy black and white loungewear.

While they liked Clinton's bright red Ralph Lauren pantsuit, they were less complimentary about Trump's cornflower blue tie.

"He looks like a used-car salesman," Ms Ramsey said, though both noted that the Republican candidate had toned down the deep tan that had become one of his style signatures over the last few months.

Neither had thought twice about staying up until the early hours. "It's not like we haven't managed to stay up all night in Paris for a party before," Mr Errico said, snacking on olives. "But I wanted to watch it in real time, and form my own opinions on what unfolded. I didn't want to wake up and have to wade through a deluge of everyone else's opinions and edits, six hours later."

As the night wore on, Ms Kate Lanphear, the former editor-in-chief of Maxim magazine, who was tapped this month by Google to lead its new Fashion Week search product, became the official fact-checker for the party, leaping to grab her phone every few minutes, furiously tapping at it, then declaring her findings to the room. The Vanity Fair fashion and style director Jessica Diehl, made a bleary-eyed cameo in white Charvet pyjamas, husband in tow.

And there was mention of another election-focused event on the fashion schedule this week: a cocktail fundraiser co-hosted by Ms Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, and Ms Huma Abedin, vice-chairwoman of the Clinton campaign, at the Sonia Rykiel boutique in Paris, with a private dinner to follow elsewhere, hosted by Ms Lauren Santo Domingo, contributing editor at Vogue.

Texts started to trickle through from friends who had set their alarms to watch also, but chose to do so from their beds. "She killed it," Ms Laura Brown, editor-in-chief of InStyle, wrote in an e-mail after tweeting continually through the night.

At 5.15am the debate wrapped up and so did the party. Creative director Anthony Vaccarello's debut at Yves Saint Laurent was taking place a mere 14 hours later, and no one wanted to miss it.

But as Mr Carl padded up to bed, he couldn't resist a final word.

"I'm with her," he said, yawning, of Clinton. "We are all with her. Fashion wants her to win."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'No debate, Hillary's the clear fashion winner'. Print Edition | Subscribe