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It’s been hard to ignore Gaddafi lately, and, judging by such a performance, this is precisely his intention.

In the first couple of decades of his rule, Western commentators found it difficult to reconcile his support for apparantly contradictory ideologies, subversive groups and rebel movements. He remains a man of contrasts, neatly summarised by two polar looks, the tribal and the military.

With the former, the clothes are dynamite and the Africa lapel pin adds such class that even the stiff competition (togas over suits; have I just discovered the biggest trend of 2010 or what?) in the rest of the shot fades into the background. However, Gaddafi has, as ever, taken strong foundations and ruined it with a 19-year-old’s beard and a pair of Bono specs from which he alarmingly seems to be inseparable of late. Sharing another Bonoism, he also funds the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, on a par with Allen’s Zelda Fitzgerald Award for Emotional Maturity.

But while the tribal style is a mixed bag, the militaria is consistantly calamitous. The medals and sashes are so tacky and overstated that you end up with some nightmare combination of Michael Jackson at the Sultan of Brunei’s fiftieth birthday and David Lynch’s Dune.

Like all the most sartorially savvy leaders, Gaddafi has realised the need to stand out from his posse. He does so by only employing female bodyguards, who have lovely burgendy and gold berrets if unfortunately un-uniform uniforms. See if you can spot the differences below.

Found them? Well there’s plenty but most notable is that the one on our left is wearing a man’s uniform, see the buttons are on the wrong side, hence its stupid baggyness.

Where Gaddafi excels, and this may well excuse the aformentioned transgressions, is in interior design. Wherever he travels, Gaddafi does his best to bring along his Bedouin tent, pictured below, in which he holds diplomatic engagements.

While the outsie is no more impressive than Zippo’s big top, the interior is a mishmash of prints that puts Liberty to shame. Personally, I would avoid tramping around with heavy baroque furniture if following a nomadic code and I think this would stylistically, as well as practically, benefit the interior.

Curiously, there are few interior shots that don’t capture the man-size box of tissues on the table. Like a painting of the northern renaissance, dictators’ everyday objects are invested with a mysterious symbolism. In this case, I can’t quite work it out but perhaps its intended to suggest that he makes western statesmen cry like a baby at his demands and fellow socialists weep at the story of imperialist oppresion.

Anyway, he was clearly upset by the jarring shoddiness of a carbord tissue box centre stage on meeting Blair and had these classy little tissue chests made for a more recent meeting with Ukraine’s Tymoshenko.


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