Bacon and eggs, red wine and cheese, peaches and cream… Biebers and Macrons? As combinations go, the pairing of Justin and Hailey Bieber with Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron is unexpected; like finding a fly in your soup, or encountering Little Mix at the G7 summit. Yet during their recent trip to Paris, the Biebers found time to meet the President of France and his wife, with Justin sharing a photo of the encounter on Instagram. Explanation was there none: the picture was uncaptioned, leading fans to conjecture that either Macron was venturing into music or Justin was venturing into politics. I don’t know which is scarier.
What is indubitably scary, however, is Justin and Hailey’s new look. Untethered from their native LA, Mr and Mrs B seem to have decided to ditch their habitual slouchy Gen-Z style — tie-dyed T-shirts, Drew hoodies, baseball caps — in favour of a look that, while not exactly presidential, is certainly more put-together than their usual one.
Alas, it wasn’t quite put-together enough for the internet. “Is Hailey going to the club? Maybe the Kardashians are waiting for her outside,” wrote one Instagram user. “So inappropriate, Hailey. Cover up, for once,” wrote another. “This is an unclassy look that really isn’t suitable for meeting the President of France,” opined a third. “Hailey really hasn’t dressed for the occasion.”
Hailey’s dress, a wrapped wool confection in her beloved buff hue by the Queens-born designer LaQuan Smith, was actually kind of elegant, in its own way. Worn with strappy sandals in vegan leather by the LA-based label Femme (call Hailey unclassy if you like, but at least she’s classy enough to subscribe to an ethical, cruelty-free wardrobe), one wonders whether the tortoiseshell sunglasses and scraped-back hair were indicative of her trying to channel Jacqueline Onassis. But where Jackie O would rather have died than show her midriff, Hailey B is cut from a different cloth: a cloth that shows her abs at every opportunity. For Instagram’s First Lady, no occasion is too formal or inappropriate for a flash of flesh.
I loved Hailey’s look. She’d made an effort and put thought into it — or rather, she and her stylist, Maeve Reilly, had. Lacquan Smith was an interesting choice. They were championing a lesser-known designer, albeit one who’s reached the radar of Tom Ford, who thinks Smith “has great instincts, and a sense of style that is remarkable”. A designer worn by Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian is never going to create a super-chaste dress, but why should it be chaste? Hailey isn’t the president’s wife: she was merely meeting her.
Besides, it says something about the times we live in that Hailey attracted so much criticism while her husband, in his unbuttoned shirt, spivvy pinstripe suit and garish Nikes, passed muster, despite looking like an estate agent who’d just been slung out of The Ned after an afternoon session on the Jägerbombs. What was he trying to convey with this look? Respect? Stylishness? The enduring appeal of clashing double stripes? Nul points on all three fronts, bro. But hey: let’s all shame Hailey for showing her abs.
Over the years, there have been a ton of pictures of the Biebers in which Hailey looks smart and considered and Justin looks like the quintessential scumbro. On their 2019 Vogue cover, Justin was topless, while Hailey looked pristine in a Prada dress and Tiffany diamonds. It’s how they roll. As their marriage progresses, maybe Hailey’s positive influence will exert itself over Justin’s wardrobe, and he’ll be dressing as immaculately as James Bond by the end of the year. Or maybe she loves him just as he is. In the words of Peggy Lee: “He’s a tramp / I adore him / And I only hope he’ll stay that way.”