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Body Politic: Fashion and Government

Designer Kenneth Cole reminded shoppers to vote in the upcoming election

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Hollywood can’t get enough of politics, but most fashionistas can be strikingly apathetic. One of the few exceptions is designer Kenneth Cole. Long known for his activist ad campaigns, Cole is now using Fashion Week to get out the vote. Invites to his recent Spring 2001 show were shrink-wrapped with voter registration forms and a pencil that read ”Why not vote for a change?” The show itself featured a video with Hillary Clinton and a not-so-subliminal poke at the Republicans’ ”RATS” ad. (The casual-chic line stayed nonpartisan, save for an eyebrow-raising plethora of hot pants.) The point of Cole’s politics? It goes beyond earning points at family reunions (his father-in-law is former New York governor Mario Cuomo, and brother-in-law Andrew is a member of the Clinton cabinet). ”Fashion is perceived by many as being frivolous, and it shouldn’t,” he explains. ”I needed to connect what I did to something bigger. Clothes just dress us up. After that, we take over.”