WashPost's Robin Givhan Raves At Saddam's "Stud" Suit, "Dressing Down the West"

December 2nd, 2005 8:13 AM

Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan (pronounce that zhiv-AHN, darlings) has drawn great attention to herself in the last five years by writing about the fashions of America's top politicians, often with a nasty edge toward conservatives and a thoroughly enraptured take toward liberals. But today's column is a wonder. She can trash Katherine Harris, and Dick Cheney, and John Bolton. But you have to hand it to Saddam. He's a fashion plate. The title is "The Dictator, Dressing Down the West." Make that "former dictator," thanks. He reminds her of Sinatra in Vegas. He was...

dressed in clothes that have come to symbolize capitalism and international diplomacy -- concepts he has never embraced. The suit celebrates civility, a concept at odds with what is known about Hussein's personality./>

The pocket square was a particularly distracting flourish. Paired with a tie, a pocket square tends to make a man look more formally attired. But without that accompaniment, it can look almost jaunty and rakish -- like Sinatra or Dino in Vegas. Here was a man accused of ordering the execution of 148 people, accessorizing in the manner of a lounge act. (In October, he skipped the pocket square but unbuttoned his shirt in a manner eerily reminiscent of the Tom Ford stud style.)/>

Hussein's style choice throws the viewer off balance. Is his modest paean to the Flamingo a simple reflection of his hair-dyeing, gold-leaf-loving, frightful vanity? Or has he decided to beat the "occupiers" from within their own system? Take it over, or mock it?/>

It is amusing when Givhan proclaims that Saddam is "scarily" similar in his look to George Clooney's overweight CIA character in "Syriana." But despite her mention of the actual charges against Saddam, the execution of 148 people, which to the former dictator, was an after-dinner mint of his madness, she treats the charges as just charges. His suit says he's not a killer:

Instead of wearing a robe or a kaffiyeh as a statement of pride, invincibility or solidarity with Middle Eastern culture, Hussein wears a suit to his trial. He stands out and he stands alone. It may be that he has determined that the best plan of attack -- or defense -- is to make a visual declaration that he will not be dismissed as a deposed leader who has been swept from the world stage. By wearing the uniform of international politics, he proclaims himself still in the game. He may not have military authority, that suit seems to say, but he has political might. He's not a killer, but a statesman.

Okay, sooooo....Dick Cheney is to be disparaged for wearing a parka to Auschwitz, but a mass murderer can be compared to Sinatra as long as he dresses right? Cheney signaled a lack of manners at a mass murder remembrance, but what is Givhan doing today? She's the chick in the parka at the mass grave today. Personally, I blame the U.S. authorities in Iraq. It's fine he has a trial instead of an instant execution. I understand the judiciary-building idealism of that. But can't we put some nice convict orange on this murderous tyrant, so fashion writers don't rave over his "wool and cotton armor"?