When the Trudeaus arrived in Delhi on Saturday night, the first thing the family did was to bow and say namaste, a perfect photo op. Then the youngest, three-year-old Hadrian, stole the show: first when he decided to disembark the plane on his own, and then as he struggled to hold a bouquet.
But the big focus is on the dapper Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. He wore a two-button grey suit with a maple leaf lapel pin and a white formal shirt—contrasting with his white and red polka-dotted tie. Completing the ensemble were a pair of tan brown Oxford shoes.
Everyone is curious about what Trudeau will wear when he is back on public view from Monday. The 23rd prime minister of Canada has always professed to being an inclusive and socially conscious leader and the sartorial choices he makes on this trip, much like Michelle Obama, can only help strengthen that positioning.
Trudeau is arguably among the world’s best-dressed male politicians, along with former US president Barack Obama, who could pull off the brown-bomber-jacket-over-ill-fitting-denims look as easily and naturally as a black-tie suit.
Over the years, what visiting leaders wear has become more than just style statements. Be it former Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s Birkin bag, or Chinese President Xi Jinping’s half-sleeve bandhgala, or British royal Kate Middleton playing cricket in Mumbai wearing a printed tunic by Anita Dongre, they’ve all made headlines.
Trudeau’s engagements should make for interesting photo op backdrops: apart from meeting business and political leaders, he is scheduled to visit the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a cricket ground in Delhi and meet students at IIM Ahmedabad and Bollywood personalities in Mumbai.
So, what will he wear? And will he go for an Indian designer?
Fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore expects to see Trudeau in a bandhgala. “I think what he wears in India would be seen around the world, and I would like it to exhibit élan and sophistication," Rathore said over the phone. “Trudeau would look most elegant in a bandhgala suit."
In grey, blue or brown, Trudeau’s suits are slim and well-tailored, their shoulder hem flowing naturally, the sleeve length perfectly cut to expose a sliver of his shirt cuffs and lapels coordinated with the width of the tie.
He is also among the few modern leaders who can pull off a three-piece suit and cognac shoes. His trouser length is short enough to show his bold, almost legendary, taste in socks, which again is in contrast to his immaculate formal suits. For a meeting with then Irish prime minister Enda Kenny in May, Trudeau wore Star Wars socks. During meetings in New York in September, Trudeau’s Chewbacca socks created “light-hearted Twitter competition between the stars of Star Wars and Star Trek," Reuters reported.
In July, he was in a casual pink shirt with rolled up sleeves and sneakers, as he posed with two cross-dressers at a gay pride parade in Halifax. Later the same day, he was at Swaminarayana temple in Toronto—in a respectful blue kurta and open-toe sandals.
As for India, Rathore recommends light colours for the daytime, “perhaps a salmon-coloured shirt with a beige waistcoast with a Nehru gala. He could pair it with khakis or light-coloured trousers".
For evening outings, Rathore says a deep midnight-blue bandhgala would be in his comfort zone and would also make a great statement—but “nothing too heavy or ethnic".
“The suit could be made in a fabric with a slight sheen to it. I would give him a bright Indian-coloured shirt inside and expect him to leave the first two buttons of the bandhgala open. I would also give him a bright-coloured or patterned pocket square."
Designer duo Abraham and Thakore suggest Indian silhouettes. “The overall statement should be inspired by India but in a very contemporary way. And that statement could be made through the silhouettes rather than colour," says David Abraham, adding, “Abraham & Thakore is quite conservative… we don’t do rainbow colours in clothing. So for Trudeau, I would suggest a neutral colour palette of greys, khakis and pale blue perhaps. But the silhouettes could be India-inspired."
“Whether it be the Nehru jacket, with or without sleeves, with some minimal karigari, I imagine the Aligarhi-cum-churidar kind of hybrid could work quite well on him.."
Komal Sharma in Mumbai contributed to this story.