Top 10 Most Fashionable First Ladies: (Can Shalani Soledad make the cut?)
SPOT.ph lists 10 of the world's most fashionable First Ladies ever. It's just too darn bad that we don't have a First Lady now.
We're going to have a new president soon, but we don't have a First Lady in sight. It's been a long time since we've had one. To ease our First Lady Blues, SPOT.ph lists 10 of the most fashionable First Ladies ever. These past and present trendsetters prove that dressing well is the best way to make a statement–especially when you're with the most powerful man in your country.
Evita Peron is famous for her beauty and notorious for her amoral ways.
1. EVITA PERON (First Lady to Juan Peron of Argentina, 1946-1952)
Life stats: MarÃa Eva "Evita" Duarte de PerÃ³n of Argentina, the second wife of the late Argentinean dictator Juan Peron, was a former actress and radio host. Her rise to power began after her marriage to autocrat Peron. She was First Lady from 1946 up until her death at age 33 in 1952. This blond beauty, who had humble origins, became Argentina's most loved and despised women of her time. While adored as the champion of the downtrodden, she was also criticized for extravagance, corruption, and manipulation of the masses.
Style statement: Carol Lawson of the The New York Times wrote: "Never mind that Eva Peron was corrupt, conniving, and megalomaniacal. She knew how to dress." Peron loved French couture and jewelry–particularly Christian Dior and Cartier. She was known for her plush evening gowns, big jewelry, mink stoles, and the "Evita bun"–a sophisticated, sleek bun hairstyle tied at the nape of the neck.
Pop culture points: As one of the most powerful Latin American women, Eva's life had become the subject of numerous plays, articles, and books. The most popular of homage to her is the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice musical Evita. The 1996 movie version starred Madonna and it earned a Guinness World Record title for Most Costume Changes in a Film. Madonna changed costumes 85 times.
Imelda Marcos lives in her own universe, where everything is true, good, and beautiful.
2. IMELDA MARCOS (First Lady to Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, 1965-1986)
Life stats: She was the First Lady of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. She became legendary for her extravagance. At the height of the Marcos family's rule, she reportedly owned 1,200 haute couture dresses, 1,500 bags, and, of course, over 3,000 pairs of shoes. And, of, she was also into building palatial homes.
Style statement: Bouffant hair matched with colorful ternos that she popularized by proudly wearing them, well, everywhere. She was also very much into shoes and accessories by Ferragamo, Chanel, Christian Dior, and Givenchy.
Pop culture points: She's a favorite subject of books and documentaries. She's been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Woman with the Largest Shoe Collection. She inspired the word, "Imeldific," which refers to ostentatious antics. Newsweek named her as one of the Greediest People of All Time. Since her family was ousted from power, she has reportedly toned down her extravagance. She now has her own product line called The Imelda Collection. She was recently proclaimed as congresswoman of Ilocos Norte's second district.
Jacqueline Kennedy never let the world see her sweat.
3. JACQUELINE KENNEDY (First Lady to John F. Kennedy of the USA, 1961-1963)
Life stats: At 33, she became America's youngest First Lady. She livened up the White House from 1961 to 1963, when then-US president John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Years after she left the White House, she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Thus, she was dubbed "Jackie O."
Style statement: Unlike her predecessors who stuck to traditional First Lady dresses, she was more fashion forward. She wore hoop earrings and jeans years before they were all the rage. She was a fan of French-American designer Oleg Cassini. She also favored Chanel jackets, A-line skirts, brooches, pillbox hats, and oversized dark sunglasses.
Pop culture points: Her impeccable style bedazzled the world even after her death in 1994. Her timeless style has been copied by women all over the world. She's a certified fashion icon. Even US toy company Mattel Inc. created Jackie-style outfits for Barbie.
Sonsoles Espinosa with her closely cropped blond hair holds her own against the former supermodel and current French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy.
4. SONSOLES ESPINOSA (First Lady to José Luis RodrÃguez Zapatero of Spain, 2004-present)
Life stats: Espinosa, 48, is a music teacher who's married to Spain's President of the Government José Luis RodrÃguez Zapatero. She also has a law degree.
Style statement: The Huffington Post's Willow Lindley wrote that Espinosa "creates her singular style by draping fabrics, wearing big statement jewelry, and keeping her hair short."
Pop culture points: Fashion magazines oven praise her elegance and point out her resemblance to actress Cate Blanchett.
Dewi Sukarno looks luminous.
5. DEWI SUKARNO (First Lady to Achmed Sukarno of Indonesia, 1959-1967)
Life stats: This Japanese socialite was only 19 when she became Indonesia's First Lady. (President Achmed Sukarno had many wives but she was the best known and most glamorous one.) She and her husband were in power until 1967.
Style statement: With her hair immaculately coiffed, she often wears black pantsuits and oversized jewelry. Though she doesn't seem to have any favorite brands, she stressed in an interview with Aulia Sungka of PMR Magazine Singapore that the clothes she wears must be a combination of "femininity and elegance."
Pop culture points: In 1992, while at a gathering in Aspen, Colorado, she broke a wine glass on the face of Filipina socialite Minnie Osmeña (granddaughter of former Philippine president Sergio Osmeña). It took 37 stitches to fix the latter's scarred face. Then, when Sukarno was 53, she published a book containing her nude photos. The said book was banned in Indonesia.
She might very well be the most beautiful diplomat in the world.
6. ASMA AL-ASSAD (First Lady to Bashar al-Assad of Syria, 2000-present)
Life stats: Born and raised in London Al-Assad, 34, became Syria's First Lady in 2000. She traveled around Syria incognito so she could get firsthand information about the challenges that the people faced. She's known for challenging tradition and her cosmopolitan outlook.
Style statement: The Huffington Post's fashion police pointed out her love for Christian Louboutin platforms and sunglasses. Her signature wavy hair is hard to miss.
Carla Bruni is still every inch a supermodel.
7. CARLA BRUNI-SARKOZY (First Lady to Nicolas Sarkozy of France, 2008-present)
Life stats: France's First Lady, an Italian, is turning 43 this year–but she certainly doesn't look it. A former supermodel who lived the proverbial rock-and-roll lifestyle, she is now her country's most aesthetically-pleasing ambassador.
Style statement: Her outfits are mostly designed by John Galliano of The House of Christian Dior. In any case, she could wear anything and she'd still look good.
Pop culture points: The media adores her. Though she was once very vocal about getting bored with monogamy, she told a reporter, "I can no longer seduce because I love my husband ... I don't want to hurt him. I am no longer a man-eater." Last year, Vanity Fair named her as one of the Best Dressed Women of 2009.
There's more than meets the eye with Mehriban Aliyeva.
8. MEHRIBAN ALIYEVA (First Lady to Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, 2003-present)
Life stats: A doctor by profession, Aliyeva, 45, is one of her country's best ambassadors. She is the president of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation and is involved in efforts to promote the arts in her country.
Style statement: She favors "classic tailoring, high heels, Chanel purses, and beehive hairdos," reports The Huffington Post. Her style is reminiscent of Jacqueline Kennedy's–but she does love bolder cuts and embellishments.
Pop culture points: In October last year, she and her daughters were featured in the Russian edition of Harper's Bazaar.
Michelle Obama always looks so put-together.
9. MICHELLE OBAMA (First Lady to Barack Obama of the USA, 2009-present)
Life stats: Obama's youthful figure and vibe belies the fact that she's already 46. (She looks about 10 years younger!) A graduate of Harvard Law School she's as accomplished as her husband US President Barack Obama.
Style statement: Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has a First Lady shown off such fashion forward picks. She patronizes US designers like Michael Kors, Jason Wu, Thakoon Panichgul, and Isabel Toledo. She is also known for wearing pearls, brightly colored cardigans, and sleeveless sheaths that emphasize her well-toned arms.
Pop culture points: Vanity Fair put her on their 10 of the World's Best Dressed People two years in a row–in 2007 and 2008. She also landed the cover of US Vogue's March 2009 issue.
Svetlana Medvedeva reminds us of Hillary Clinton–only she's more in touch with her inner fashionista.
10. SVETLANA MEDVEDEVA (First Lady to Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, 2008-present)
Life stats: This brassy blond used to work as an economist. She became Russia's First Lady in 2008.
Style statement: ReadRussia.com's Katya Tylevich writes, that Medvedeva is "a regular fixture at benefits and fashion shows" and that she is "partial to couture gowns." She is known for her fabulous jewelry, her color-coordinated ensembles, and her brushed-up hair. She loves wearing stilettos.
Pop culture points: When her husband was declared president in 2008, Expert magazine, one of Russia's leading publications, predicted that the First Lady "will probably be trying to set the tone in the country's fashion scene."
First Lady Apparent?
When you've got a face and figure like Shalani Soledad's, there's little need for makeup or bling.
Life stats: Soledad, 30, is a councilor of Valenzuela City and the girlfriend of the Philippines' next president, Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III.
Style statement: If Soledad has fashionista tendencies, it doesn't show yet. She is always seen in jeans and T-shirts or simple shift dresses and tops and with sensible slacks. Her accessories are as low-key as she is. We can't even tell what brands they are. They could be tiangge finds and it wouldn't matter–she makes her trademark simplicity her own style. At President Aquino's proclamation on June 9, she sat unobtrusively in the back row beside Ogie Alacsid wearing a simple black sleeveless shift dress with a slim belt with her hair pulled back by a headband studded with oh-so-subtle (hopefully faux) diamantes. Not a bad simplicity-with-a-bit of-sparkle fashion statement to project on her beau's first important official occasion. The dress also appears to be the same one seen in the video above (1:01 into the clip) taken a few months before the May 2010 elections.
Pop culture points: The Philippines has not had a first lady for close to a decade, thus the clamor for Aquino, 50, to finally get hitched. It sure doesn't hurt that his candidate for First Lady is a slim mestiza with good skin and hair and a sweet demeanor. She probably just needs some time with a stylist to amp up her fashion picks.
Soledad in a black shift dress, sparkly headband and heart-shaped drop earrings at boyfriend Noynoy Aquino's proclamation.
Art by Warren Espejo.
Image credits: Mr. Dowling.com (Evita Peron), SwampPolitics.com (Michelle Obama), PhotoTraveler.ph (Imelda Marcos), DiplomatDC (Jacqueline Kennedy), and CarolineintheCity.com (Carla Bruni-Sarkozy).