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July 01, 2004

Svelte Saddam's super-stylish

By Ross Thomas

BAGHDAD - Saddam Hussein turned Iraqi heads today during his arraignment at his former palace in Baghdad, his first public appearance for months.

Saddam Hussein "looked marvellous" at his arraignment today (Reuters photo)

His silver pinstripe suit with a distinctly modern cut (Paul Smith, $1,500) above a crisp white open-neck shirt (Prada, $250) drew admiration from many observers.

"He looked good, very good," said Jane Ferkin, New York Times fashion editor. "The charcoal and white combination was an inspired choice. The suit looked great with the shackles."

Saddam wore black Gucci loafers ($300) with no socks, a bold decision lauded by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Carson Kresley.

"My first thought when I saw him was 'hip'. He looked with-it, cool even. So I wasn't in the least surpised when he crossed his legs and I caught a glimpse of his delicious sockless ankles," said Kresley, who has long been an advocate of bare feet in loafers during summer months.

But it wasn't just his wardrobe that caught the attention of style gurus: Saddam took a minimal approach to accessories, sporting only a platinum Cartier wristwatch ($3,200).

"It was exactly the right watch to wear," said Martin Fowler of GQ magazine. "It was understated enough to perfectly complement his ensemble."

Saddam's new look is in stark contrast to his days as Iraq's brutal totalitarian dictator, said Joan Rivers, famous for her Oscar-night fashion commentary.

"Before it was all army outfits, heavy on the drab green, and how about that stupid beret?" she said. "Today he looked marvellous, it's a complete departure for him. He's lost a bit of weight, too."

Rivers also pointed to Saddam's hairstyle as further evidence of a fashion turn-around.

"He's dyed his hair, I think. Remember when he was dragged from his spider hole seven months ago?" she asked reporters. "He was a complete mess, all grey hair and straggly beard. I was disgusted at how he'd let himself go."

Kresley, too, was excited by Saddam's apparent desire to leave behind his military fatigues.

"I guess someone had a word in his ear, finally. The soldier look gets real old real fast, it's time for something a little more mature and sophisticated," he said. "Lose the rifles and pistols, it's all about shoes, belts and glasses. His trial will certainly provide his designers with a great showcase. I can't wait to see what else they'll come up with."

Saddam rejected charges of war crimes and genocide.

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