Elisabeth Kopp thanks the audience for its support. Photo: Swiss National Museum/ASL

Pioneer in politics and fashion

Elisabeth Kopp, the first Swiss female Federal Councillor, had a flair not only for politics, but also for fashion. These days, prominent personalities from all over the world wear garments from the same company.

Andrej Abplanalp

Historian and communications chief of the Swiss National Museum.

On 2 October 1984, FDP National Councillor Elisabeth Kopp became the first woman to be elected to the Federal Council. Thirteen years after the introduction of women’s suffrage, the United Federal Assembly appointed a female politician as one of the seven-strong Swiss national government for the first time.

For this historic day, Elisabeth Kopp chose a very feminine outfit: a blouse and skirt made from a soft wool fabric, not a suit that would correspond to male formal attire. However, the woman from Zurich did opt for fairly traditional colours. This ensemble, which left its mark on history, has been in the possession of the Swiss National Museum since 2004 and is an important exhibit of recent national history.

Kopp’s attire sparks a fashion trend

After her election to the Federal Council, Elisabeth Kopp’s attire even sparked a minor fashion trend. Clothes shops were repeatedly asked for the Kopp blue. The blouse and skirt worn by Kopp when she took the oath of office came from St. Gallen company Akris. This eastern Swiss company regularly causes a stir on the catwalks of the world and now trades globally. Famous women such as singer Alicia Keys, actress Angelina Jolie and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wear Akris. But Elisabeth Kopp is and remains the pioneer. Not just in a political sense, but notably also in a fashion sense.

This outfit made from new wool was worn by Elisabeth Kopp when she was sworn in as Federal Councillor on 2 October 1984. Photo: Swiss National Museum

I swear: Elisabeth Kopp is sworn in as Federal Councillor. Photo: Swiss National Museum

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Swiss National Museum

Three museums – the National Museum Zurich, the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz – as well as the collections centre in Affoltern am Albis – are united under the umbrella of the Swiss National Museum (SNM).