Julie Bishop has fired back at critics who have slammed the former deputy Liberal leader over her passion for fashion, admitting she’s always enjoyed the attention and used it as a platform to promote Australia’s $27.5billion clothes industry.
The former foreign affairs minister was famously dubbed the ‘Minister for Fashion’ during her time on the frontbench where she regularly flaunted her love for designer outfits, which were frowned upon by some parliamentary colleagues.
The newly single keynote speaker and Australian National University chancellor continues to turn heads at red carpet events with her glamorous dress sense since retiring from politics in 2019.
Just this week on a visit to the UK, she was pictured in a show-stopping silver sequined gown, thoroughly upstaging Princess Beatrice, as well as a pink leather minidress.
It was yet another bold fashion statement as she spoke about the political power of dress at the event held at London’s Design Museum.
‘My critics ridiculed me by calling me the Minister for Fashion [but] little did they realise that I absolutely revelled in that and wore it as a badge of honour,’ Ms Bishop told attendees.
Julie Bishop continues to make headlines with her glamorous fashion choices, rocking this two-toned ruffled gown to promote a fashion event in London last weekend
The former foreign affairs minister turned heads in an eye-catching buttoned mini dress and sparkly heels as a keynote speaker at a London fashion event
‘I felt vindicated every time a young designer said to me, “Julie, when you wear one of my outfits on the world stage, I’ve made it. Suddenly the orders come in. Suddenly, people want to know me”. That was my vindication.’
She revealed some cabinet colleagues disapproved of her fashion sense and that she was once was told by ‘an older while male’ to ‘drop the corporate look’ and wear ‘more cardigans’.
The comment came when she was first appointed aged care minister in the former John Howard government in 2003.
Attitudes hadn’t changed when Ms Bishop became Australia’s first female foreign affairs minister a decade later in 2013 after Tony Abbott was elected prime minister.
‘I was in a cabinet room of 20 males and me, I was the only woman in the Abbott cabinet in 2013,’ she told the crowd.
‘So if I didn’t promote Australian fashion, who would?’
The Design Museum in London promoted Ms Bishop’s keynote speech with photos of her in a two-toned pink ruffled gown
Julie Bishop donned a silver sparkly Max Mara mini dress at the launch of Dr Gene Sherman’s new book The Spoken Object, where she posed rubbed shoulders with Australian A-list actress Isla Fisher and Princess Beatrice (pictured)
In 2013, Julie Bishop was the only woman in Tony Abbott’s cabinet frontbench and said if she didn’t promote Australian fashion, no one would
Looking back at her time in parliament, Ms Bishop added: ‘I don’t find the need to self-describe in that way [as a feminist]’ and said she did not find the term useful.’
Ms Bishop offered the room one piece of wisdom.
‘Don’t let others define who who are, should you should be and what you should achieve,’ she said.
‘There are so many people out there who are prepared to set standards for you they wouldn’t meet themselves. So I learned that lesson, just through the fashion advice.’
In the days prior, the centre promoted the event with more photos of Ms Bishop in a stunning two-toned ruffled gown, including one of her standing next to a dump truck.
Ms Bishop stole the spotlight in London again on Wednesday, donning a silver sparkly Max Mara mini dress at the launch of Dr Gene Sherman’s new book The Spoken Object, where she posed with Princess Beatrice, former British Prime Minister David Cameron and Australian A-list actress Isla Fisher.
She also opened up on the gender inequality challenges faced when she first made the transition from law into politics in 1998.
‘I did find the different standard, somewhat frustrating, but I knew why that happened because all the conventions and protocols and attitudes in parliament were established at a time when there were no women in parliament and it takes a long time to change people’s attitudes,’ she told 9Honey.
Dubbed the Minister for Fashion, Julie Bishop (pictured in Sydney recently) wore the label as a badge of honour
Ms Bishop says she became aware of the transformative power of fashion from a very young age.
When she became foreign affairs minister, she realised fashion could be not only be an important export earner but also a sophisticated reflection of contemporary Australia.
‘I also used fashion as a soft power diplomacy tool on a number of occasions,’ Ms Bishop continued.
‘I wore many outfits that were hopefully appropriate for the occasion but I certainly used colour to reflect the nation I was visiting or hosting. I similarly adopted colour to show my respect’
‘But there were times my promotion of Australian fashion was the subject to criticism. I believe that came about due to ignorance. Some people didn’t understand the significance of the Australian fashion industry.’
Today, it’s estimated the fashion industry contributes $27.5billion to the Australia economy.
Julie Bishop sparked a debate over her choice to wear a headscarf during her visit to Iran in 2015
Julie Bishop has recalled how she was advised by parliamentary colleagues to adopt a ‘corporate look’ when she first became minister. She’s pictured as minister for ageing in 2004
Ms Bishop also addressed how she refused to wear a hijab while visiting Iran for diplomatic meetings in 2015. She was Australia’s highest-ranking official to visit Iran in 12 years.
She ‘threw’ on a scarf as a compromise after being told she would be denied a meeting with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The decision attracted both criticism and applause at the time.
Social media lit up as those from both sides of the argument weighed in on whether Ms Bishop was right to cover her head in keeping with local custom, while political commentators and politicians also voiced their opinions.
Julie Bishop opted for a stylish black mini-dress and heels at the David Jones SS22 Wonderworld Season Launch in Sydney
At the 2019 Budget in one of her final appearances in federal parliament, Bishop was mocked online after stealing the show and ensured all eyes were on her as she threatened to upstage then-treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
She looked like she was ready for a night on the town in a $1,299 sparkling dark blue sequin midi dress designed by Rachel Gilbert, dazzling earrings and painted pink nails.
The animated backbencher was photographed jumping with her hands in the air and reveling in the limelight – just minutes before Mr Frydenberg took to the dispatch box to announce the nation’s finances were finally back in black.
Former foreign minister Julie Bishop ensured all eyes on her as her party set about delivering its budget in 2019, one of her last appearances in federal parliament
Ms Bishop dazzled in a blue sequin midi dress, appearing visibly enthusiastic ahead of Josh Frydenberg’s first budget delivery in 2019
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