When Meryl Streep appeared at the podium at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia yesterday in support of Hillary Clinton, she did so in the most patriotic dress she could find. Streep was, quite literally, wearing an American flag as a dress.
While you might assume that this dress was specifically created for Streep to talk about Clinton’s ‘grit and grace’, this was a look she already had in her wardrobe. Streep first wore the stars and stripes knee-length chiffon dress by French designer Catherine Malandrino in 2009 to promote the film Doubt in 2009 in Paris.
And Streep’s not the only one to turn to the patriotic dress over the past 15 years. Halle Berry first wore a sleeveless version of the dress with stiletto knee-high boots when promoting Swordfish in 2001, Katy Perry wore the flag-printed dress over 4th July weekend in 2013 with John Mayer and Miss USA 2014 Nia Sanchez wore hers (with her tiara, of course) shortly after she was crowned.
Catherine Malandrino started her career working in Couture Ateliers in Paris, including Emanuel Ungaro, and launched her own label in 1998, showing at New York Fasion Week. Malandrino’s business is still based in New York and is stocked in a number of American department stores, including Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom.
It’s not surprising that Streep’s outfit for the DNC was just as considered and persuasive as her speech. There is a long history of celebrities using fashion to show their support for a presidential candidate, with no-one being as committed to a voting-ready outfit as Katy Perry who in 2012 wore ‘ballot paper’ dress to show her support for Obama.
While there has been a lack of celebrities wearing customised Trump ensembles, Clinton certainly has the fashion industry in her corner. Clinton collaborated with Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs and Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rag & Bone, Marchesa and Tory Burch to design ‘Vote for Hillary’ t shirts available on her website. The likes of Kendall Jenner, Emma Roberts, Olivia Wilde and Christy Turlington have been wearing this Clinton merch, and Anna Wintour even wore one on the front row at New York Fashion Week in February.
Lena Dunham has shown how these political cheerleader outfits can be a powerful tool in an election, and has worn a number of red, white and blue custom-made pieces. “The clothes are just a way to bring even more energy and joy to the message,” Dunham explained her patriotic looks in a caption on Instagram. Dunham’s stylist Shirley Kurata previously revealed to The Telegraph that Dunham’s decision to dress like an American flag was inspired by the custom ‘Vote Obama’ pieces Katy Perry wore in the 2012 election.
“It is a quick and powerful way of showing who you support and what your ideological and political beliefs are,” Kurata says of how fashion can be a powerful political tool. “And with the popularity of Instagram and the power of the internet, you can send that message through in a way that can reach hundreds and thousands of people in a matter of minutes. I hope that people can use this power to inspire tolerance, peace, goodwill, activism, and positivity.”