Following in the footsteps of tastemakers Michelle Obama and Kate Middleton, Peng Liyuan, wife to the Chinese president Xi Jinping, has sparked a fashion craze after stepping off of a plane while wearing a black trench coat and carrying a black leather purse. While the outfit may seem rather simple and conservative by most Western standards, it's considered very fashion forward in China, where spouses of politicians tend to avoid the spotlight and dress as plainly as possible.
Both the coat and purse were identified as being from the Chinese design-label Exception. Since the First Lady's appearance, the retailer's website has been so overrun with orders that it has been continually crashing.
So far, the company has made no comment about Peng Liyuan or their sudden surge in popularity, but Hong Huang, the publisher for the fashion magazine iLook, had this to say:
"First ladies are ambassadors of the culture and the design and of the soft power of a country. I'm glad that she chose to wear Chinese and take up that role of spokesperson for Chinese design here."
Many are speculating what Peng Liyuan fashion splash will mean for the country's political spouses. While some of the more conservative members of the Communist party frown about the First Lady's materialism and quiet endorsement of consumerism, others celebrate the idea of her stepping into the spotlight.
Editor of China's Vogue Zhang Yu tells the New York Times, "It's the first time that China's first lady appears like a modern woman. I think she dressed very well, with taste and confidence. After so many years, we finally have a first lady who can represent us so appropriately. I think it is a landmark event."