Less than 24 hours after SIGNAL broke news of Nigerian First Lady Aisha Buhari’s ostentatious Hermes Birkin 35cm Porosus Crocodile Gold Hardware Bag worth $105, 000 (N40, 950,000), the BBC, in contrast, has filed a report of Ho Ching, the wife of Singapore’s PM, carrying an $11 blue, dinosaur-printed pouch on a state visit to the White House.
Priced at just $11 (£8), the pouch was designed by a Singaporean student at Pathlight, the country’s first autism-focused school.
PM Lee Hsien Loong and Ms Ho have been in Washington since Monday.
According to the BBC, initially, Ms Ho’s choice of accessories was met with some criticism online. But, once it was discovered to have been designed by 19-year-old Seetoh Sheng Jie of Pathlight, sales of the pouch jumped.
The school typically sells 200 pouches in four months, but sold 200 within a day after images of Ms Ho were shared widely, the school told the BBC. This is happening just as news of Nigeria’s Aisha Buhari carrying a Hermes handbag may have successfully created more clientele for Hermes, a non-Nigerian luxury brand.
SIGNAL’s report on Aisha Buhari’s Hermes bag has since gone viral in the Nigerian media with most Nigerians expressing outrage at the cost of the bag, while others say there’s no big deal about Mrs. Buhari totting a $105,000 handbag.
In a sharp contrast, Ho Ching was seen carrying her $11 pouch at the arrival ceremony at the White House South Lawn, where President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama officially welcomed Mr Lee and Ms Ho to the US.
The pouch, which is sold on a platform run by the school to promote the talents of people with autism, has since sold out.
Pathlight’s principal, Linda Kho, said the school was unaware that Mrs Lee would be taking the pouch, which she bought at a recent fundraising event, to Washington.
“We were pleasantly surprised and honoured that she chose to bring this bag on her official visit. It gave such a great mileage for the artist on our Artist Development Programme (ADP),” she told the BBC.
“[She] is known to be very down to earth and practical and the fact that she carries a less than $20 Singapore dollars pouch to such a world stage event shows she is really confident and authentic.”
Ms Ho originally faced much criticism online for her choice in outfit, with netizens quick to point out the difference in dressing between Mrs Obama and Ms Ho.
“[She] really could have chose something, well, more cheery,” Dr Siew Tuck Wah, an aesthetics doctor said on Facebook. “We need to get a stylist for her please.”
The Pathlight website describes Mr Seetoh as being “extremely pedantic about dinosaurs”, with the illustrations drawn from his personal knowledge.
Mr Seetoh was “happy” to find out about the incident, according to his father Mr Jason Seetoh.
“His parents are understandably very proud and honoured,” Ms Shae Hung Yee, Senior Manager, Student & Corporate Affairs at Pathlight school said.
Ms Ho is an adviser to the Autism Resource Centre (ARC) in Singapore, which helped set up the Pathlight school.