Top Designers Diss Michelle Obama’s Style

By Adele

My catty attitude toward Michelle Obama’s clothes has good company. Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang agree the First Lady needs help.

De la Renta told Women’s Wear Daily, “you don’t… go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.”

The haute couture crowd is miffed at being passed over, but Michelle isn’t necessarily behind it. Keep reading…

But first, let me dismiss complaints that Michelle wears the same thing twice. That’s going overboard. She’s not in a movie. Normal people don’t wear disposable clothes.

However, somebody PLEASE confiscate that black dominatrix belt she loves, wearing it across her white bow blouse over a wide-open cardigan like she wants to look fat.

In Prague a few weeks ago (Geuereislove/Getty)

In Prague a few weeks ago (Geuereislove/Getty)

At the White House, this week. (Zimbio)

At the White House, this week. (Zimbio)

Just when Michelle seems stylistically clueless, the New York Times reveals she has a long-time fashion mentor: Chicago boutique owner Ikram Goldman.

Ikram now plays go-between with designers so they never hear directly from Michelle what she wants. It’s a weird setup.

The designers make clothes blind, having no idea if Michelle will like or ever wear them. Designer Maria Cornejo has made 8 suits, 3 coats, and 3 dresses. Jason Wu, creator of that white one-shoulder inaugural gown covered with used dryer sheets, did it in exchange only for the glory of having the dress in the Smithsonian.

And many of the relatively obscure designers Ikram solicits happen to be sold in Ikram’s boutique, so they really have no choice but to play her little games.

Can you say “conflict of interest?”

Under the circumstances, I don’t blame Oscar and Vera for being peeved.

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4 Responses to Top Designers Diss Michelle Obama’s Style

  1. st says:

    I wonder if Michelle Obama is aware that last year there were numerous public complaints about the lack of diversity of fashion runways over the past decade. Some designers responded to this by diversifying their runways. Why Oscar de la Renta, Vera Wang and others in the industry need to be reminded of this is one question. In addition to this, why Michelle Obama should include them when they exclude is another. I was surprisd that WWD and the NY Times have not asked designers this question.

    http://www.newsday.com/features/lifestyle/fashionweek/ny-etlede5556549jan31,0,4847597.story

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/14/fashion/shows/14race.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

  2. catsworking says:

    ST, When I think of haute couture, I think of skinny white zombies wearing outlandish clothes no ordinary woman would be caught dead in (which is why zombies have to model them). Part of the problem could be that designers have this 6′ stick figure in mind when they make the clothes, so they don’t fit or look as good on many black or Asian women.

    Now whether this plays into Michelle’s choice of clothes, who knows? Maybe with her it’s a price thing. Can’t blame her for not wanting to drop thousands on some well-known designer dress she can only wear once. If she did that, we’d all be screaming, “She’s a brainless clothes horse. Doesn’t she realize there’s a recession?”

    On the other hand, this setup she’s got with Ikram is just bizarre. The designers who worked with other first ladies said they LIKED talking to designers, looking at fabrics, telling them how they wanted to look. Michelle is letting this boutique owner do all her talking, not even letting the designers take her measurements themselves.

    So what she’s wearing reflects what this other woman wants, not her own style. When she’s left alone to dress herself, though, she usually shows up in that God-awful belt, those Barbara Bush beads, the inevitable cardigan, or all 3.

  3. st says:

    There’s actually a three decade history of black models and haute couture. Comments like they are “too dark, too light, not black enough, too ethnic, do not have straight noses” are not about their size.

    I agree that Michelle Obama wants to look like you and me, whatever that may mean. I can just imagine the criticism if she wore more expensive clothing.

    Oscar de la Renta has referred to Hillary Clinton as “prudish.” I definitely think there’s a disconnect between designers and working women even though I don’t think it’s just about their size. Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton only seem be on their radar when they become First Lady. One would think that their education has given them more money than most, but designers still cater only to their idea of an aristocracy: socialites and the extremely rich. Contrast the background of a Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy with that of a Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

    Maybe Michelle Obama thinks Ikram Goldman knows more about style than Michelle Obama would or could ever know. I’m not sure why she would think this. Maybe there are several wealthy women walking around Chicago like this and we’ve never seen them until now! Princess Diana used to wear some very unflattering outfits when she first emerged. Let’s just hope this is a phase Michelle Obama is going through.

  4. catsworking says:

    ST, you’re right. These designers aren’t going to give a nobody a second thought. It’s all about the ink. You know they must be saying, “Who’s Jason Wu anyway?”

    It’s hard to find anything in most of the top designers’ collections that a “normal” woman would ever wear. And they make it even more absurd with extreme hair, makeup, and shoes that could pass for stilts. Michelle may have sworn off them for that reason. She doesn’t want to be gussied up to look like a fool.

    I think Hillary and Michelle both have a good sense of how far they can go before they look ridiculous, as most women do. And I think, like Diana, they both went through their phase when they suddenly realized, “Oh, my God! They’re tearing apart every stitch I put on my back,” and realized they had to up their game. That’s when they call in the experts.

    Apparently, Michelle has been buying clothes from this Ikram for years, so she must trust her. But browsing through the racks in a store and sending the woman out to do your bidding sight unseen are 2 entirely different things. However, I think Ikram hasn’t been steering her entirely wrong if she was responsible for the inaugural day wear and the fuchsia sheath Michelle wore for the cover of Vogue.

    She should just sneak into Michelle’s closet one day while she’s out walking the dog, grab that belt, and burn all the cardigans.

    Poor Diana was just a 19-year-old kid when she had to start dealing with the media. She took every negative word to heart and went off the deep end turning herself into a fashion plate. But at least she had good advice, and as she got more comfortable with herself, she always looked fabulous.

    I’m not saying Michelle always looks a fright. Some of her dresses have been really lovely. It’s just that she has a tendency to junk them down with her choice of accessories.

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