Felisa Rincon De Gautier: Puerto Rico's first lady of politics: grande dame style, 1946-1968
In 1946, during a time when women and politics were an unusual combination in Puerto Rico and around the world, Felisa Rincón de Gautier became mayor for San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico. From 1946 through 1968, she transformed the city into one of the greatest and cleanest of Latin America and herself into an iconic figure through her unique manner of dress, giving the effect of a Velazquez painting or looking like a Goya Duchess. This study examines the life of Felisa Rincón de Gautier through her appearance and creation of a grande dame fashion image and its ultimate impact on her success as mayor of San Juan. To explain the origins, purpose and meaning of her fashion image three objectives were posed: 1) recognize sources of influence in the creation of the mayor’s grande dame image, 2) identify the dress elements composing this image, and 3) understand the impact it had on her success as mayor. Felisa Rincón de Gautier’s grande dame image was an intricate combination of her Spanish heritage, experience as a dressmaker, and her philosophy of individuality and femininity. The mayor set herself apart by individualizing her appearance through her “office wear,” accessories, headdress and hairstyles, creating a look that can be defined as a grande dame image. Three themes emerge as reasons for the creation of her distinctive manner of dress: the need or function and convenience in dress, as “a woman, not a man” in politics, and the desire to make an impression when involved in public relations for San Juan and Puerto Rico. The mayor’s grande dame style became a distinctive powerful identifier for a female politician in a male dominated field both in Puerto Rico and the United States. It can be argued that her image and the interest in it, was the introduction to everything that was Felisa Rincón de Gautier, her values, personality, and political leanings. Thus, the former dressmaker of Spanish descent, as mayor of San Juan, dressed to create a better work environment through functional clothing, as well as to promote her city and Puerto Rico around the world.
School:The Ohio State University
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:felisa rincón de gautier puerto rico politics women fashion society
Date of Publication:01/01/2005