Christine Lagarde's power pearls

One of the most-photographed women in public life: Christine Lagarde, International Monetary Fund Director and major pearl-wearer.

She's a polarizing figure, in both her IMF position and her former role as France's finance minister (for which she was investigated and acquitted in a fraud probe last spring). 

Regardless of politics and philosophies, don't we all look closely at the style of any woman who reaches prominence on the world stage?

This is power dressing at its most elevated, on display by an ambassador of classic French style. She is known for perfectly-furled scarves or shawls—seen in nearly every podium appearance—and for stunning accessories, including a breathtaking assortment of pearls.

It is in fact not easy to find a photo of Christine Lagarde without pearls; she often wears multiple pieces.

In a classic white multi-strand:

In a big pair of South Sea drops, her most frequently-worn earrings:

  The South Sea earrings, worn with a SS bracelet:

She gives her pearls a twist—into her scarf:

In Tahitians at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, in Luxembourg:

She also wears a mixed South Sea strand:

Sometime last year, Lagarde began to grow out her trademark short crop with bangs to a near-bob, and has kept the pearls.

In button earrings and an abstract floral bracelet: 

One of my favourite looks: arriving for a conference in the English countryside, in a pearl and black-coral sautoir with a black tee.

In a blush Chanel dress, big studs and a South Sea pearl ring:

Photographed in October in New York in a double strand, rings, studs:

At the UN recently, in a long chain studded with massive baroques:

Lagarde has spoken often about obstacles for workforce participation for women. I am always interested in what she says on that topic.

Speaking in September at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, she lauded the key role of women in bringing Iceland out of its recession. When its economy crashed, "the banks, the funds, the government—everything was taken over by women," she said. "So when it's messy, you get the women in. But when the mess is sorted, keep the women," she added, chuckling.

Now, that is a strategy I can support: mess sorted, women in significant roles, pearls.



Kristien62 said…
Certainly a woman who personifies the phrase bien dans sa peau.
Susan B said…
Wow, she really does have some magnificent pearls! I especially love the lariat strand worn with a tee. And that station chain of baroques...yowza!!
I think she is fabulous - and I love the idea of 'women in significant roles and pearls.' The pearl/scarf twist is pretty cool too.
materfamilias said…
A great survey. . . thanks for putting this together and guiding us through with your pearl-alert eye. A convincing association of pearls with power, giving that power a judicious aura of feminine polish.
Anonymous said…
Her pearl collection is just stunning, I really want to rebuild mine someday, I'm taking baby steps but I have bought my loose stone, an emerald diamond, just figuring out how I want to set it now. That and a few pearl pieces is all I ever want.
Murphy said…
I have a simple strand of pearls, and I have not worn them lately because i think they make me look matronly. Now i'm thinking maybe I could twist them with a scarf or another necklace...
Anonymous said…
I'm with Murphy. My pearl necklaces are always in the drawer, fearing the matronly look. In the process of growing out my gray hair, which adds to the issue. She is stunning.
spacegeek33 said…
Love this! I realized recently that it is a rare day that I don't wear some sort of pearls also--someone commented one time when I *wasn't* wearing them! And I have the (guilty pleasure) of watching a silly show, Scandal. One of the characters is always in different types of pearls, and I love that too. I'm thinking that pearls may have become, inadvertently, one of my "signatures." I think I'm okay with that! (Wearing tahitian black earrings as we speak! LOL)
I do not think I have ever seen her in anything I did not are right, she owns power dressing. Enjoyed the post!
LPC said…
I love that last phrase - after the mess is sorted out, yes, please, keep the women.
The larger pearls really look gorgeous on her and I like the weave of that strand in her scarf, something quite creative, a detail that gives her a feminine edge.
Anne and Kirk said…
Great post - love the idea of the scarf/pearl twist... ready to try some new things with my strands!
Duchesse said…
Kristien: In one interview I read, the journalist said, "There is not a shred of coquette in Lagarde". I really liked that.

une femme: Probably the most extensive collection available for photos!

That's Not My Age: She really makes that "dress for success" advice to wear minimal jewelery look awfully stiff and dated.

materfamilias: That's it, feminine- and I think more so with the softer, longer hair.

Tabitha: Oh, yes! An emerald cut is so you, and I only wish I could see what you do with it.

Murphy: I have done several posts on rehabbing your pearls... and might have to write another. Unless they are hopelessly jeune-fille, they should have a new life.

Anon@10:47: OK, you two. I shall post on this.

spacegeek: There are so many thrilling pearl varieties, it only makes sense to slowly collect the ones you like best.

Pam: She can afford the best, and wears it to advantage, both in jewelry and clothes. I saw her in a slim pantsuit that was just a knockout.

LPC: She regularly speaks about the importance of women's participation in the workplace; her statements inflame some and are lauded by others.

hostess: If there is one thing I think women should consider when buying or restyling pearls, it is size- not for the sake of status (there are some pretty, biggish pearls for under four figures out there), but for presence on a mature woman.

Anne and Kirk: I've never seen it on anyone else, myself.

Gretchen said…
I think she's pretty amazing-like Madeleine Albright, she dresses the way she wants to, and sports some spectacular, covetable jewelry to boot. But, then, each woman opens her mouth....and out pops sage wisdom, bons mots, and a relative dose of self awareness. I don't care what anyone says, we need more women like this as leaders. Off to practice wrapping a scarf in pearls now.
Beth said…
She knows exactly what looks good on her, and then makes a broad palette for herself. But, wow, the size of those pearls! I love the multicolored strands. Lots to learn here! I seldom wear my mom's pearls because they make me feel like I should be wearing a 40s sweater set with them - but maybe this will give me some more creative ideas. Nothing beats the luminosity and non-color richness of pearls.
Colette said…
I really enjoy reading your pearl posts and always look forward to the new ones!

The posts with the most