A dandy dictator

Few dictators could match Muammar Qaddafi's fashion sense, or lack thereof. But there aren't many stylish tyrants these days. We think we know why.

Muammar Qaddafi's fashion sense, or lack thereof, has long been a boon to newspaper photo editors around the world. From his vivid robes to his cartoon-dictator military uniforms, Col Qaddafi has revealed consistently, well, striking taste in attire.

The gold-trimmed hat from one of those uniforms was last seen, this weekend, adorning the head of one of the rebels who burst into the colonel's Tripoli stronghold. They didn't find him there, but the they did find some wonderful souvenirs including his golf cart, a gold replica sniper's rifle, gold chains, a gilded bust of his head, and an album of photos of Condoleezza Rice, the former US secretary of state for whom the tyrant of Tripoli seems to have had an unseemly enthusiasm.

Many powerful men around the world seem to have a style sense all their own, or else none at all. Fidel Castro loved his uniform. Kim Jong-il is still wearing drab, vaguely military tunics, along with a bouffant hairdo and platform heels to make him look taller. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez likes bright red attire. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is rarely seen without his windbreaker. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, for all his other flaws, is one of rather few strongmen to be generally well-tailored.

That's one of the drawbacks of being so powerful: who will dare to tell you that your fashion choices are, well, out of style?

Published: August 28, 2011 04:00 AM