Having our Prime Minister profiled in the March issue of US Vogue to a global audience is a big deal. But what kind of impact does that have on our country?
The feature, which appeared in the American edition of the globally recognised fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazine, covers everything from Jacinda Ardern’s meteoric rise to Prime Minister, the election campaign, her relationship with Clarke Gayford and her pregnancy.
We could say that Ardern’s presence in Vogue is an opportunity to cast a spotlight on our nations government, policies and the figure behind them to an audience that otherwise wouldn’t have any idea and call it day. But that wouldn’t begin to quantify its relevance or significance to New Zealanders now would it?
Scroll for our reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s feature in Vogue is significant:
Vogue’s leadership and authority far exceeds its view on fashion and beauty. The brand plays a unique role as a cultural barometer for a global audience appealing to both intellectuals and lovers of fashion and society. In other words, appearing in Vogue has the same cachet—arguably if not more (when considering its monthly oppose to weekly frequency)—when compared to the likes of TIME magazine.
US Vogue alone has a total audience reach expanding to 67.2 million people. So that’s more than 14 times New Zealand’s population who have been presented with an insight into the figure leading our government.
Little nation, big impact.
Her acknowledgment in Vogue has gained subsequent mentions in prominent publishers across the globe, including The Guardian who states:
“Although still known as the leading global fashion and beauty magazine, Vogue has increasingly shifted towards profiling political figures since the 2008 Obama election.”
Which leads us to our next point…
While there has been an increasing focus on politics within its pages, the number of those in this field which have actually been featured in Vogue remains exclusive. Ardern sits among the ranks of former US First Ladies Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is an outspoken critic of Trump. The decision to profile Jacinda Ardern has fuelled our PM’s latest nickname: “anti-Trump.” Correct us if we’re wrong, but that feels like a big compliment!
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) February 14, 2018
They say any publicity is good publicity (remember that scene from Wolf of Wall Street?). But there’s no denying good publicity leaves a much sweeter aftertaste. The article described Jacinda Ardern as “young, forward-looking, and unabashedly liberal.”
While most publications, or people for that matter, thrive on the opportunity to uncover secrets, dark truths or cast a spotlight on policy oversights, critics have described the feature as “glowing,”, “gushing” and “beautiful”. Even the writer of the piece Amelia Lester took to her personal Twitter account to express her thoughts, posting “She’s the real deal.”
— Amelia Lester (@ThatAmelia) February 14, 2018
Perhaps the author adopted our PM’s philosophy on empathy? Either way, whether you love Jacinda or not, a winning profile of her is a winning profile for New Zealand.
Let’s talk about The Fashion. The accompanying high-end photo shoot not only showcases our nation’s gloriously rugged beaches but turns the spotlight onto New Zealand designers too. During the interview, which begins in Ardern’s private residence, Lester is welcomed by Ardern “wearing a black skirt she had made while on vacation in Thailand and a Juliette Hogan cream silk shirt.” And later, while attending a barbecue at a local rugby league club, Lester adds that “she is dressed casually but, as always, favours New Zealand brands: Andrea Moore pants and Allbirds shoes.
More squarely, in the photo shoot, Ardern is pictured in a Harman Grubisa trench coat and Herriot trousers. Jacinda may not have the following of say, Meghan Markle, but it’s not outlandish to assume that people who relate or aspire to be like Jacinda could translate into sales for these said designers. Not to mention how patriotic this is.
Jacinda’s manner of accepting the coverage sends a distinct message about our nation’s modesty, claiming she didn’t think she “fit the bill” when Vogue approached her. And later, partner Clarke Gayford posting a tweet of his acknowledgement of the high fashion shoot.
….well thats the desktop sorted. pic.twitter.com/9YlqkiwPEZ
— Clarke Gayford (@NZClarke) February 15, 2018
How’s that for keeping it real?
According to an article published on Stuff, an image can turn into votes. Comment from Dr Bryce Edwards of the University of Otago suggests the idea of politicians being “one of us” is a popular one in the modern world. The significance of Ardern’s feature in Vogue could be instrumental in gaining the support of Vogue followers in New Zealand that perhaps were indifferent. Or, though unlikely, it could have the opposite effect, leading to votes being cast for an alternative party. Just ‘sayin.
“Jacinda Ardern at the moment is very much in her, ‘I’m a leader who understands the people,’ moment, and I expect that will continue for quite a long time, because she is popular and so there’s value in her being seen to be popular, because it just reinforces that notion that people like her and that she’s someone who’s in touch with the ordinary people,” says Edwards.
For modern mothers and fathers, calling out Clarke Gayford for assuming the role as stay-at-home dad speaks volumes about where New Zealand sits on the journey to equality and, by the same coin, messages relating to being a capable working mother.
In an open letter to Ardern, published in Hawke’s Bay Today and written by Kerry Henderson, general manager at PORSE, Henderson comments on what it means to be a parent, female or male:
“It is great news that Clarke is planning to be the stay-at-home-dad when you return to work. This is a position that many of our dads find themselves in and it is great in today’s age that we can let go of gender stereotypes and realise that what’s best for each baby is simply to be in a loving and connected relationship.”
It was a positive experience for all involved. From the labels to the stylist to the photographer.
Photographer Derek Henderson said he was “blown away” by the three hours he spent with the PM. “It was a delightful experience, I can’t imagine anyone would find it anything but [delightful],” he said. “I’ve photographed a few politicians in my time and this was a very uplifting experience… I was knocked over by her enthusiasm.”
New York-based Kiwi stylist Kathryn Neale said Ardern was “incredibly gracious” and brought cupcakes for everyone on the shoot. Meanwhile, Wellington designer Bron Eichbaum of Harriot was in disbelief his work would feature in the shoot given the infancy of the label (just one year old). “I can’t believe it, I have to pinch myself,” said Eichbaum.
Warm fuzzies all round.