She may be in the UK on official business, but that hasn’t stopped Foreign Minister Julie Bishop letting her hair down and having a little fun.
Bishop attended The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at Buckingham Palace earlier in the week and took the opportunity to rub shoulders with non other than The Duchess of Cambridge. The glitzy event was to celebrate a brand-new initiative that’s set to shine a spotlight on designers from more than 50 countries around the world.
Bishop arrived in the UK at the weekend as part of a seven-day official visit that includes stops in Hungry and Slovenia. While she spent the earlier part of the week meeting with British parliamentarians and discussing Australia’s Foreign Policy White Paper, she kicked up her heels for a night out with London’s fashion elite and Catherine to talk all things sustainable fashion.
Known for her love of fashion, Bishop rivalled the style-setters in a glamorous black gown with striking silver earrings. She shared a photo of herself chatting with Catherine, and wrote: Talking sustainable fashion with Duchess of Cambridge at #BuckinghamPalace???????? #FashionExchange bringing together designers and artisans from 53 #Commonwealth nations.
Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer, can be seen in the background of the shot. While the night looked like a fun event for all involved, some Australian taxpayers took issue with Bishop’s attendance.
“‘Let them eat cake’ as a small business owner I am struggling to pay my Tax, well at least I know where this quarter will go,” one Aussie woman wrote on Twitter.
“This is outrageous that any Aust Political figure should think they need to be at a Fashion Week! the only thing that is for sure is the word “week”! Give us a break!!” added another.
However, while it was all fun and games on the night, Bishop’s attendance was part of a wider push to promote Australia’s fashion and design industry to the rest of the world.
In January, the Foreign Minister’s office came under fire for sponsoring an Australian-made “modest fashion” Islamic clothing exhibition in Malaysia amid criticism it went against mainstream Australian values. However, it hasn’t dampened Bishop’s enthusiasm for the cause, making the most of her London visit by meeting with some of Australia’s most prominent fashion labels based in the British capital.
She also took the chance to put Britain’s Secretary for Foreign Affairs Minister Boris Johnson through his paces on a morning run to train for the Foreign Ministers’ relay for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. A keen runner herself, Bishop absolutely thrashed Johnson as they jogged through St James Park, leaving her British counterpart red-faced and puffing.
The UK is Australia’s second largest source of foreign investment and its fifth largest two-way trading partner, worth $27.5 billion in goods and services last financial year. Ahead of her visit, Bishop said she would be working to support this trading relationship by meeting with the Australian-UK Chamber of Commerce and creative industry representatives.