First lady Peng Liyuan makes Vanity Fair’s best-dressed list 2013
What do Beyonce, Kate Middleton and Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping share in common?
They are all paragons of style, having been deemed the most "preened, polished, and poised of the fashion set", according to Vanity Fair’s International Best-Dressed List for 2013.
Peng is not the first Chinese leading lady to make the list, but she has raised plenty of eyebrows by beating America’s first lady, Michelle Obama.
Seventy years ago Soong May-ling, wife of Chiang Kai-shek, also made the cut. But since the dawn of the People’s Republic, Chinese presidents’ wives have never had a popular profile.
While her husband has declared war on extravagance, Peng has made a name for herself through her stylish outfits. Her "notable ensemble of 2013", according to Vanity Fair, was a black double-breasted, belted coat and handbag worn on her trip to Russia in March.
There was much speculation about the designer of the black leather handbag, which many believed was by Tod’s, the luxury Italian brand. It was finally confirmed, with the jacket, to have been custom-made by Guangzhou-based brand Exception.
"The dress sensibility of Peng Liyuan has … elevated Chinese brand values overseas," said Xaven Mak, chief editor of Harper’s Bazaar Hong Kong.
Chinese internet users welcomed the news. "She has brought glory to the country", wrote one person. Another blogger offered this pithy summary: "Soft power." But some in the US fashion world were not as impressed.
The Fashionista blog wrote: "We can think of more than a few snubs … but the biggest would probably have to be Michelle Obama … especially when you consider some of the women who made the list over her, like Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan."

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