It's no secret that I commend Michelle Obama for her informed, sartorial choices. One of my favorite moments is when she wore Naaem Khan, an Indian-American designer, to the India State Dinner. That attention to detail and cognizance of fashion's important role in the economy is truly exceptional. Not everyone shares my sentiments.
This month, I reported that Michelle chose red Alexander McQueen at the State Dinner as a nod to Chinese's cultural designation of red as a sign of good luck. Apparently, that's not enough for some American designers. Both Oscar de la Renta, and Diane von Furstenberg (on behalf of the CFDA) criticized Michelle for wearing a non-American designer to the China State Dinner.
Oscar de la Renta said via WWD:
“My understanding is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade — American products in China and Chinese products in America. Why do you wear European clothes?”
Diane von Furstenberg of the CFDA released this statement via NYMag.com:
“CFDA believes in promoting American fashion. Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been wonderful at promoting our designers, so we were surprised and a little disappointed not to be represented for this major state dinner. For a lot of designers, their ability to grow their businesses is going to be in the global marketplace. In some instances, there’s really no growth in the U.S. and [these designers] need to do that to succeed. That’s important to us. So anytime that there’s a stage or international setting that you can celebrate American fashion, it’s a good thing."
Michelle Obama must be highly aware of the political power of her fashion statements and to a degree, that has to inform her wardrobe choices. But demanding that she wear only American designers to major appearances is taking it too far.
For one, there's no boundaries. Where will it end? Will we start criticizing her hair product manufacturers, her jewelry choices or her husband's tie and sock picks next?
Furthermore, Michelle has always been extremely supportive of American designers, including Jason Wu, whose gown she famously wore to the Inauguration.
And lastly, she has the freedom to wear whatever she wants. Who are we to dictate what she chooses to dress herself in so long as it looks great?
Where do you stand on the issue? Should she only wear American designers? Or she should dress without worrying about the national significance of her clothes?