Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm of 2 minds.

I'm of two minds, neither of which I'm that clear on or sure of. The huge focus on fashion and it's connection to Michelle Obama is starting to bother me and intrigue me at the same time. Honestly, it bothers more than intrigues , but it's hard to ignore. This first big trip to Europe and the press and public's fascination with her clothes is impossible to ignore. This is a situation where both she and our President are under a very large microscope. The world is curious to see and hear them up close and we , as Americans, are just as curious to see how well they will perform. At the same time everyone is curious to see and judge Mrs. Obama's choices of wardrobe for all of the myriad occasions and introductions to the world leaders they are meeting for the first time. So far so we all expected and knew.
The whole fashion question is taking center stage in the press and in many blogs, not just fashion blogs. It seems so petty to keep score and at the same time,those of us in the business of fashion can't avoid it. Why did she choose this or that? Why not wear this instead, or isn't that look too casual? Why the same designers again and again? This is where it all gets dodgey and easily becomes an excercise in passing judgement.
I am not a huge fan of Jason Wu and Thakoon Panichgul. It's just my personal taste. I can't say that they as designers are better or worse than others . I just don't find them that interesting . When I see Michelle Obama in their clothes on the international stage, or in J.Crew I think that she could be more imaginative and wear designs with more depth;in short, looks that are more intriguing. But I'm not the First Lady and it's not my choice to make. Wearing young American design is a boon to the careers of these fortunate few and that is a great honor not to be minimized or belittled. I have to just do my best to take the high road. There are other designers who I believe could dress her and make her even more beautiful than she already is, but that is a question of time.
Seeing her in France today with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was an interesting study. So far they both wear the fashion of their countrymen. Carla is always and only in Dior for state occasions and absolutely no one seems to question her choice. If anything she is applauded for her immaculate taste. One never hears things like why doesn't she wear Lanvin or YSL or Balenciaga? So I ask myself why am I complaining about Michelle Obama's choices? The answer is that I think she falls short of dressing in a way that shows herself to her greatest advantage. This is not a Jackie O fixation or comparison. Jackie had a fashion obsession, Michelle does not. But as First Lady the world is looking to her to be the Ambassadress of American style. I fear it is a job that comes with the JOB.
Over time Michelle will undoubtedly become more experienced in the expectations of the public and her responsibility to the world press, which in visual terms means to look her best no matter the occasion or situation. Style is a very necessary component to the position. I hope that we will see that evolution for the better. Perhaps Laura Bush wasn't a focus of the fashion press, but that's simply because she was of little weight or interest to the country or the world. The same can not be said of Michelle Obama.
Like I said , "so far ,so good"..... as if I were the judge and jury. I'm not. It's only my opinion.
Most importantly, I'm amazed that we came out of utter darkness with the luck of having two such brilliant and committed leaders to restore this country and the opinions of those who inhabit the rest of this world.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well put.

I wouldn't stew too much on the contradiction of whether this is a worthy topic. Pres. Obama talked about repairing European perceptions of Americans in his Strasbourg speech today, and part of that entails respect they as visitors show to their host--including wearing appropriate clothes, good manners, etc. After 16 years, people still write about the notorious incident of George W. Bush's obnoxious behavior at one of his father's state dinners.

In the recent Vogue interview with Carla Bruni, she remarks that she wears mostly slobby jeans and t-shirts during the week, but she certainly looks sharp on every state occasion and is widely admired for it. People take her more seriously than a couple of years ago, and it seems to have helped her music career.

I don't work in fashion, so I'll admit I thought Cathy Horyn was wrong to attack Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day for working exclusively with Ikram, but I begin to see the shortcomings--the absence of Oscar de la Renta in her wardrobe 60 days in is pretty amazing; especially as some of the outfits from London are the shapes that Oscar does beautifully and far better than what she brought along. I'm ready to pay her not to wear ill-fitting J. Crew anymore unless it's to a country club buffet.

You're welcome, Michelle! I must say, this has been an entertaining diversion from statistics (my day job) this week.