Madame Le Pen goes to New York

Timothy A. Clary, AFP | Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, at the 2015 TIME 100 gala on April 21
3 min

A lot has been said in France about far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s attendance at the 2015 TIME 100 Gala in New York on Tuesday evening, including: What was she wearing?


Le Pen, who is head of France’s far-right National Front (FN) party, was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine last week, which put her in its “leaders” category alongside US President Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pope Francis and others.

Although it is not Le Pen’s first time on the list (she made the cut in 2011, the same year she took over leadership of the FN from her father and the party’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen), it is the first time she has deigned to go to the TIME 100 Gala.

“Seeing how I’m France’s only political representative [on the list], it was about time I came,” she said on the red carpet.

“It’s my first time at this kind of event,” she told French media.

Which brings us to what she was wearing. Le Pen attended the gala in a dark blue caped halter gown with a sequin collar. The dress caused an uproar back in France, where many took to social media to pooh-pooh the unflattering choice.

To be fair, Le Pen has never shown much of a flair for fashion. Up until now, her look has consisted mostly of pantsuits and button-up shirts in varying colours. And it should be pointed out that Le Pen didn’t make TIME’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people because of the way she dresses.

She made the list because, in TIME magazine’s own words, “Le Pen has spun gold from voter exasperation, mixing charm and ambition to rack up wins in European Parliament and local elections with an anti-Europe, anti-immigration campaign. That’s made her Europe’s leading right-winger, giving like-minded politicians across the continent a dose of electability.”

The magazine added that Le Pen’s own prediction last year that the FN would take power in France within a decade “no longer seems preposterous”.

Le Pen reiterated her faith in her party’s political prospects while standing on the red carpet at the gala, explaining that it had played a role in her decision to attend the event.

“It’s a more political nomination than the one in 2011. At that period, it was more of a promise. Now, it’s the result of an analysis of the FN’s political significance,” she said.

“I think that we’re going to rise to power and consequently, we will be obligated to cross paths, meet and talk with powerful people in their respective countries,” Le Pen said.

Her ability to mingle with powerful English speakers might be compromised, however, by the fact that she admittedly doesn’t speak the language.

“Oh no, I don’t speak English. I’m French!” she exclaimed on the red carpet.

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