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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Spiffy Vlad Clad Totalitarian-Style

Vladimir Zhirinovsky may have done worse then expected in the election, but in the sartorial stakes the great man is riding high.


Other candidates may have made a splash through their superior rhetoric, incisive intellects, outrageous tomfoolery or bumbling idiocy, but Vladimir Volfovich, past master of political flamboyance, has won hands down in the race for Funkiest Outfit of the Year. His new wardrobe of lemon yellow, corrida red and sober black tunic jackets, tailored by couturier Slava Zaitsev, have ensured that Zhirinovsky stands out in a crowd as no other candidate has been able to do.


"I met Vladimir Volfovich by chance at Paris airport recently," said Zaitsev, 57, the darling of Russia's nascent high fashion world. "He came up to me and said 'Why do I have to buy all these foreign suits? Can't I have a good Russian-made outfit?' So I invited him to come to my studio for a fitting."


And so began a beautiful relationship, the most famous fruit of which was the now-famous tunic, modelled on the military look beloved of Soviet leaders of the 1930s. Zhirinovsky's version is more psychedelic, perhaps, then anything Stalin would have contemplated, but the similarity is unmistakable.


"No, it doesn't make him look like Stalin," protested a member of Zhirinovsky's campaign headquarters staff, Oleg, who refused to give his last name. "I think it looks more like a 15th-century boyar's kaftan, like Ivan the Terrible wore, but half length instead of full length. My attitude to it is ironic; a politician has to be the center of attention, so he can wear whatever makes him most visible."


Followers of Zhirinovsky's past style will recall that his traditional aversion to a tight collar (presumably so as not to restrict the function of his larynx), has been cleverly echoed in Zaitsev's creation. Strangely, Zhirinovsky's role in the design of the election's loudest fashion statement seems to have been uncharacteristically meek.


"He put himself entirely in my hands," said a proud Zaitsev. "He trusted me as an artist and didn't insist on his own ideas. He respects my work and doesn't look down on me like Kosygin and Brezhnev's circle used to."


The $1,000 tailored jacket is a new departure for Zaitsev's men's couture, introducing, he hopes, a new, squarer, sterner look inspired by the '30s. Zhirinovsky is just the man to model the style, said Zaitsev, because it goes well with statesmen and orators.


"The look is very classic but not at all militaristic," explained the famous tailor. "Yellow is a holiday color, the color of the sun and hope. It looks good when Vladimir Volfovich speaks on the tribune and stands out when he is among other people."


The suit's most public outings have included last Wednesday's Independence Day rally, when the great leader's canary yellow attire was visible hundreds of yards away, and on several talk shows and countless off-the-cuff television appearances. The yellow version has proved to be more to the Liberal Democratic Party leader's taste, presumably because of the uncomfortable ideological connotations of the mulberry red jacket, and the totalitarian overtones of wearing black.


The Zaitsev studio has, as yet, reported no rush on Zhirinovsky suits from followers, but would be happy to make one for anyone who wished to follow in his sartorial footsteps.


"I am not in any way political," insisted Zaitsev. "There is no political message in my clothes. I will work for anyone who respects my artistry. And who pays the bill."