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Christine Lagarde: World Leader and Style Maven in Hermès and Chanel

With all the talk out there about whether or not girls actually run the world (Beyonce: “Girls run the world.” “Stop lying, girl; no we don’t.”), I think it’s appropriate to show evidence to lend credibility to Beyonce’s incredibly catchy point. Christine Lagarde, France’s Finance Minister, might not run the world, but she certainly helped save it. The Euro was on the brink of collapse, and she helped maneuver a strategy that rescued it. And she’s being considered as the new head of the International Monetary Fund. She would replace the now-infamously embroiled Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Lagarde would be the world’s banker.

Christine Lagarde is a cowboy. Okay, so most cowboys were male, they didn’t run one of the world’s most powerful economies, they probably didn’t wear sharp Chanel suits, and they weren’t, you know, French. But there’s something about the swagger of this woman, the industrial world’s first female finance minister, that exudes that Old West attitude. She didn’t go into the job firing first and asking questions later, much like a John Wayne character. She came in more measured, like a Wyatt Earp. She looked around at the people who brought upon the global recession, and who nearly brought the Euro to its knees, and she told them, “there’s a new sheriff in town,” except she probably said it in French.

Or maybe she’s more like a Chicago mafia don. She did spend much of her professional career living in Chicago, while heading up the legal powerhouse Baker McKenzie. Maybe the spirit of the City of Big Shoulders rubbed off on her. She’s known for saying decidedly Chicagoan things with a decidedly Chicagoan attitude. You know, that I don’t care who you think you are; here’s my take on it-attitude. She once told the UK’s The Independent, regarding the prevailing Wall Street machismo: “In gender-dominated environments, men have a tendency to…show how hairy chested they are, compared with the man who’s sitting next to them. I honestly think that there should never be too much testosterone in one room.” Dang, girl, go on.

But she’s also a style maven. She’s most often seen in elegant Chanel suits, and Hermès scarves. Is her personal style relevant? Probably not. You don’t hear people discussing what kind of suits Barack Obama wears, or where Nicolas Sarkozy buys his pocket squares. Incidentally, Barack, can you please stop wearing those dorky dad-jeans with gym shoes? You are the leader of the free world, so why do you dress like you are running to pick up toilet paper from Costco? But I digress.

If you are discussing Lagarde’s qualifications and experience, and your argument boils down to how she dresses herself, then you probably have a faulty argument. But if you are talking about Christine Lagarde, the person, then how she dresses herself can be incredibly relevant. Also, this is a style blog.

Lagarde chooses to carry herself with grace and style. We know the clothes don’t make the (wo)man, but they certainly give that (wo)man an aura of confidence. I can only imagine the look in the eyes of those bankers she was about to fire when she strode in the room, sharp as a tack, and tailored to perfection.

So, is Lagarde a cowboy, a mafia don, or a style maven? She’s all three of those. And she’s none of those. She’s Christine Lagarde: a bold, elegant, measured, smart-as-a-whip CBA (Certified Bad-A**), with a closet to match. Perhaps, in twenty years, you’ll hear someone describe a well-dressed, intelligent, and confident woman as a “Christine Lagarde.” And maybe the question isn’t, “Do girls run the world?” Maybe it’s, “Should girls run the world?” As long as Christine Lagarde is a “girl,” and as long as the world has more “girls” like her, then the answer is a resounding bien sûr!


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