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Theresa May: Is US Vogue Appearance More Valuable Than A President's Handshake?

10/04/2017 13:55 BST | Updated 10/04/2017 13:56 BST
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

As uncertainty prevails in the wake of Brexit, the UK is relying increasingly on its reputation as an important global economy to continue to have a foothold on the world stage and be considered relevant within the international community. In this respect, Theresa May's upcoming appearance in US Vogue could be a valuable diplomatic stepping stone - but how will she use it?

It will not be the first time that fashion, politics and 'Brand Britain' have joined forces, but as the UK embarks on crucial talks with its EU neighbours the pressure to avoid alienation has never been more pertinent. Margaret Thatcher, famed for her haircut, pearls and handbags, united femininity and power in a male dominated world during her time in office, and likewise made an appearance in Vogue. Similarly, Winston Churchill was notoriously conscious of the quintessentially British image he epitomized - cigar, hat and cane - in the midst of two bruising World Wars.

So where does this leave Theresa May? Her rise to power is beset with challenges never before faced by the UK, but her appearance in Vogue marks an opportunity for May to cement her own brand image, not just by wearing British clothing but by crafting the tone she wants to present to the US and beyond.

Under political scrutiny from Westminster to Warsaw and Washington, the stage is set for May to use this Vogue feature as a showcase, to paint a picture of herself as a strong, capable leader in difficult times. Simultaneously, May can take this chance to project an approachable and friendly side, offering a human face to the politician charged with the grueling job of negotiating the EU divorce settlement. She may also use this feature to demonstrate that she and the UK want to uphold existing relationships and forge new alliances in the wake of Brexit.

We don't know the true reasons behind Theresa May's decision to appear in US Vogue, whether it's about enhancing her political profile across the pond, or simply to fulfill a long-standing ambition in line with her well-reported love of fashion.

It's probably more the latter, but I do hope that this is also an indication of her wanting to emphasize a positioning that 'Brand Britain' is open for business, and is positive and progressive in an ever more unsure world.