Michelle Obama could only continue as everyone’s favorite woman for so long. An itty bitty backlash against the First Lady has begun, and it stems from her fashion choices. Last week, in a WWD article, designer Oscar de la Renta lashed out against Michelle’s clothing choices:
American fashion right now is struggling. I think I understand what [Obama and her advisers] are doing, but I don’t think that is the right message at this particular point….I don’t object to the fact that Mrs. Obama is wearing J. Crew to whatever because the diversity of America is what makes this country great. But there are a lot of great designers out there. I think it’s wrong to go in one direction only.
Michelle Obama, instead of wearing grown-up sensible clothing by Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan — and thereby supporting the seasoned juggernauts and biggest employers of the American clothing business — has gone all niche and fashion insider. Last week in London she even went Japanese avant-garde with a Junya Watanabe cardi. What’s next? Lady Gaga zippers on the eyes?
Donna Karan thinks that Michelle is just going through a phase with this constant wearing of more indie designers:
I hope and believe that this is just a moment,” says Karan. “And I hope to be able to dress her, and not only dress her but address her, sit down — I’m interested in her totality as a woman.
In the past, other First Ladies have tended to play favorites. Jackie O often wore Oleg Cassini, and Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton showed preference to Oscar de la Renta. Michelle’s chosen few seem to be Jason Wu, Thakoon, Isabel Toledo, and J.Crew. If the First Lady wants to use her influence to help American fashion designers, maybe she should spread the love a little bit more. Why not work with Gap creative director Patrick Robinson on some clothes for the family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard? Or go to Carolina Herrera for a feminine dress every few balls? Because if Michelle can make a Talbot’s dress sell after wearing it on the cover of Essence, maybe can save the whole industry — but that’s a lot of pressure to be putting on one person’s shoulders, even if they’re as toned as hers are. Besides, don’t we all like to wear clothes that fit our body types? Maybe Michelle hasn’t worn some designers because they don’t flatter her curves.