“Brooching it Diplomatically” – Madeline Albright

My undergrad days as a political science student coincided with Madeline Albright’s appointment as the 1st female US Secretary of State. Who could forget that she left her mark on the Kosovo War, became one of the rare few Western diplomats to meet North Korea’s reclusive Kim Jong-Il, and was called a snake to her face by Saddam Hussein. 

But what was remarkable about Albright was her ability to use fashion, specifically brooches as a way of communication. It was a non-traditional tool of negotiation and also a way of distinguishing herself as a female communicator in a field typically dominated by men (politics, foreign affairs and diplomacy).  

[And need I mention that Albright has managed to combine my interest in current affairs/politics/economics and fashion into a package of intellectual peruse? :)]

200 of her favorite brooches are now going on tour (Sept 09 – Jan 10) at the New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, aptly titled “Read My Pins: The Madeline Albright Collection”. This will also be accompanied by a book “”Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box” .

Although I can’t be in New York, I certainly hope Amazon carries this book! 

Some of the pins on display:

Albright Pin Collection

The snake pin which she wore after being called a snake by Saddam. Apparently, after the fall of Saddam, she got a new pin, that of a snake with a dagger through it.



Dove pin, given to her by Leah Rabin, wife of Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by opposer to Rabin’s peace efforts



Pin made specially for her on the launch of the book “Brooching It Diplomatically”. It has the head of Statue Liberty with two watch faces for eyes, one of which is upside down—allowing both her and her visitor to see when it is time for an appointment to end. 

I could not find pictures, but I’m sure there will be the huge bug brooch she wore when meeting a Russian diplomat after a Kremlin recording device was found at the U.N. At another meeting with Russians to talk about the antiballistic missile treaty, she wore an arrow, prompting then Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to ask, “Is that one of your interceptors?” Albright’s clever answer: “Yes, and we know how to make them very small.” 

Also a great article by The Vintage Dectective, in that jewellery do not only convey the wearer’s character or intention, but also a way of deriving strength from or projecting and conveying certain moods and ability. There are also 2 books on Albright, her biography “Madame Secretary” and another one “Brooching It Diplomatically” that I wish to get my hands on. 🙂


1 Comment

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One response to ““Brooching it Diplomatically” – Madeline Albright

  1. Pingback: Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (and Suits) « Cinical, with a dash of idealism

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