What do America and China have in common? Both countries have first ladies who get almost as much attention as their ruling husbands. Exhibit A: the power of their fashion statements. Just like Michelle Obama, whose style choices can make a designer's career, the look of China's new first lady, Peng Liyuan, is having an impact on her country's industry. During her current trip to Africa, Peng wore some pearl earrings. Once the brand of earrings was reported, the company's stock jumped so much that regulators capped its price.
Fashion might seem petty, but there's evidence that Peng is changing norms in China, where past first ladies were mostly nonexistent from the spotlight. She could become a modern national figure who has a positive impact on China's image abroad. Since her husband, Xi Jinping, just became president on March 14, we're only starting to get clues as to what messages she plans to send. One such clue is her decision to wear only Chinese-designed and -produced clothes. Her ensembles typically embrace Oriental details and shy away from Western styles popular in her country, perhaps as a way to symbolize China's rising cultural influence. Beyond fashion, she also became a goodwill ambassador at the World Health Organization, hoping to contribute to HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
See photos of Peng on her debut world tour with her husband now.