It’s safe to say the debate over whether Michelle Obama should or should not have worn a foreign designer to the China state dinner has been blown out of proportion. It started when Oscar de la Renta, followed quickly by the CFDA (via a statement by president Diane von Furstenberg) and then WWD condemned the First Lady for wearing McQueen instead of an American designer to the state dinner, which they interpreted as her lack of support for the US fashion industry (which relies heavily on China). Leading fashion writers Cathy Horyn, Robin Givhan and Kate Betts all chimed in with their opinions.
And even though Michelle Obama wore that controversial McQueen three weeks ago (on January 19) folks are still talking about it. Just yesterday, in response to the First Lady saying, “Women, wear what you love. That’s all you can say. That’s my motto. It’s nice to have on a nice suit. But it’s nicer to change a generation, in terms of their health. It’s a better use of my time to focus on rallying this country around our military families. I mean, there’s so much that I hope to do in this role, that makes a difference in people’s lives,” Nanette Lepore, one of New York Garment Center’s most ardent advocates wrote this in the Huffington Post:
Five years of raising awareness for New York’s Garment Center have been rendered irrelevant by one statement. What Michelle Obama chooses to wear can save and create American jobs. Her influence on the American fashion industry does not detract from her agenda in the East Wing. The First Lady can support her causes and simultaneously support a valuable American industry and the thousands of people it employs. I wish she would rethink her statement.
Yesterday, at a White House luncheon, Michelle Obama told reporters, “Clothes are just the thing that you wear to do the stuff you need to do.” According to Politico, one reporter then asked about her decision to wear a British label to the China state dinner. Here’s what she had to say:
I like to patronize American designers, and the vast majority of the clothes that I wear are [designed by Americans.] But there are a lot of other designers that have cute stuff, too. I don’t think that I’m any different from any other woman, other than the fact that people see what I wear and then they talk about it.
And it seems Mrs. O is getting tired of all the fuss. On the Today show this morning, Michelle Obama rolled her eyes when Matt Lauer broached the subject, and said, dismissively, of the scrutiny on what she wears, “I take it as a compliment, it’s not something I focus on. Everybody’s gotta get dressed in the morning. I hope people find [what i wear] nice.”