Chantal Biya, wife of Cameroon President Paul Biya, not seen, reacts as she waits for the plane carrying Pope Benedict XVI to take off, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Friday, March 20, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI departed for Angola Friday on the second leg of his first papal visit to Africa. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
I decided that Goddess Chantal is, after all, a benevolent deity. OK, she's faintly ludicrous, but everything I've read suggests she works hard for her pet causes and is sincere in her efforts. Plus, as the wife of a dictator, why shouldn't she be fabulous? And that is what she is: fabulous, if ever there were an appropriate occasion to use an overused word. Chantal has that extra bit of exuberance, almost reckless, but with all the confidence needed to pull it off. She IS fabulous!
"Is First Lady Chantal a 'saint of style'," wonders Misi Coker at Africanloft.com in a must-read post, "or is she just a fashion challenged, extravagant wife of an African dictator?" My response is this: can't she be all that and more?
Let's talk about the hat. OK, you thought Aretha Franklin won the Hat of the Year award? Not even close:
(AFP/Getty Images) March 17, 2009
THAT is what Chantal had concocted for her Papal greeting. It is beyond beyond, beautifully made and I love it. Here she is with Ratzo:
I don't like the Pope, but is there anything wrong with over-the-top fancy dress to meet the Pope? Of course not! Is there anything right with it? Well, if you ask me, the pictures speak for themselves.
Let's have a Chantal roundup:
- From Cameroon: "...her fashion sense has caused much debate amongst those who have come across it."
- LA Times ponders the celebulocity of the African first ladies' Hollywood visit, notes that Chantal looks like "a lioness." They also have a more serious article about it here.
- Women's International Perspective has a nice write-up on the conference.
- Here's the official government press release version from Cameroon that makes Chantal sound like Mother Teresa and doesn't mention sensational outfits or her posing for pictures with hotel heiress celebutards.
- The UK Daily Mail again uses fabulous Chantal as a foil for Sarah Brown's scandalous dowdiness, complete with comical word balloons added to wire photos.
- Perez Hilton declares Chantal FAB, and wonders what the hell [hotel heiress celebutard] was doing there.
- TMZ said Chantal looks like a drag queen. Is that supposed to be an insult? We love drag queens!
I say two sparkley hooves WAY UP for Goddess Chantal, benevolent dictator's glamorous wife, owner of the sensational hairdo, wearer of the daring couture, holder of the sacred quilted Chanel handbag. Um, YOU GO or something!