Does Michelle have an obligation to wear the big American designers?
Where in the world are Donna, Ralph and Calvin?
Certainly not on the spousal circuit at the G-20 summit in London. In fact, as President Barack Obama and 19 other global leaders huddle to ponder the world’s economic woes, Michelle Obama has reaffirmed with gusto her fashion support of America’s new and niche, and given anecdotal support as well to antiprotectionism via cardigans by Azzedine Alaia and Junya Watanabe.
Yet, save for a recent digression to Michael Kors, Obama continues to show zero interest in the big guns of American fashion, those whose names resonate around the world, and who collectively employ thousands of people. Obama’s early appearances in the likes of Jason Wu, Thakoon and Isabel Toledo, (with the punch of Narciso Rodriguez worked in for good measure), both captivated and charmed much of the country while exciting an industry that understands the myriad challenges faced by small fashion houses even under the best of circumstances. But as time goes on, with economic recovery feeling none too close and the Obamas’ honeymoon with the world still passionate enough for the First Lady’s sartorial choices to garner major, gushing headlines, should she diversify her wardrobe choices, especially as the industry prepares to celebrate her with a CFDA Board of Directors Special Tribute? Indeed, does she have a responsibility to do so?
Like the auto and financial industries, fashion is in crisis. Yet the person in the administration best positioned to support its major players — those whose collective vicissitudes play into the economy in a considerable way and whose individual swings of fortune impact the lives of countless working people up and down the supply chain and their families — is giving them the cold shoulder. And we don’t mean Donna Karan’s. No one’s asking for a big-gun bailout, Mrs. O (at least not yet). But how about a shout-out? …
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Michelle Obama in a Thakoon coat (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)