A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Handshake: Differing Sartorial Styles

Not as obviously awkward as the Rabin-Arafat handshake, but not exactly old buddies either. I doubt if either is asking the other for fashion advice. And I'm sure some Republicans are going to have exploding heads over this photo.

Where does he get his clothes? (I don't mean Obama.) Head shops selling wall-hangings for 60s hippies, painted during bad acid trips? Draperies in houses of ill repute? Surely those patterns aren't traditionally Libyan. Does he design them himself, and if so, what mind-altering substance is he on? There may be some sub-Saharan African cultures that could pull off this style (sort of Paisley/Leopard/19th century wallpaper blend), but in North Africa, well, no, not really. But compared to the dark blue suit and light blue tie, which are somewhat understated, it is somewhat, well ... overstated. Or perhaps, screaming at the passing traffic about your alien abduction.

Some things just can't be ignored, even on weekends. I now return to the weekend.


Anonymous said...

I am fairly certain a number of his get ups are indeed the tribal wares of Nigerian, Senegalese and other Saharan folks. This thing, I'm not sure where it came from.

Gene said...

Obama has a way of bringing forward his other hand and touching the other person whose hand he is shaking. He did not do that here. The body language is very telling.

Unknown said...


Michael Collins Dunn said...

The post by Stephen, with a NYT link, is to a story called "Designer Marries Western Style with Libyan Traditions," about someone who has designed for Brother Leader. Worth a read. Though one quote -- "They are, in fashion terms, what some people would like to see Libya become, a blending of the traditional and the modern" does make me wonder. Heck, my grandmother had drapes like that, and didn't even know it was culturally avant garde.

David Mack said...

Meow, meow, meow. For shame, Michael. It was, admittedly, a tempting target.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

David, some temptations are irresistible. You're the Libya hand: since he keeps attacking King 'Abdullah, why exactly does he seem to have grown a Saudi-style goatee?