As you’ve probably heard, the White House State Dinner took place Wednesday night and all anyone’s been able to talk about is Michelle Obama and British first lady Samantha Cameron’s complementary floor-length blue dresses (designed by Georgina Chapman and Alessandra Rich, respectively).
The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones calls the moment a “photo op” that “will be remembered more than anything said or agreed at this week’s ostentatious visit” and argues that Cameron was trying to send a political message. “Samantha Cameron is not just flying the flag for British fashion in this photograph, she is flying it for President Cameron and the myth of liberal conservatism,” he writes, referring also to her new apparent friendship with the Obamas.
Cameron’s conservative image in the eyes of Brits may also be why she doesn’t have the selling power of the American first lady.
We obsess over every time Michelle Obama does or wears anything. J. Crew and Isabel Toledo and many others have been forthright in admitting that they’ve benefited tremendously from Mrs. O wearing their clothes. Same for Kate Middleton with brands like Issa and LK Bennett. Jeans that just happen to look like those orange skinny jeans the Duchess wore to play field hockey in this week have seen an 88% uptick in sales, Elle UK is reporting. That’s why terms like “The Mrs. O Effect” and “Kate Middleton Effect” exist.
However, Samantha Cameron, the first lady of Britain, doesn’t have much of an “effect” at all, according to the Daily Beast’s Isabel Wilkinson, even though she’s very fashion-y. She wears fashion-forward British labels like Erdem and Roksanda Illincic and goes to shows during London Fashion Week. She’s also an official ambassador of the British Fashion Council. Still, she doesn’t seem to have the same selling power as Middleton and Obama.
The Daily Beast points to two possible reasons: One may be that Cameron primarily wears high-end, relatively inaccessible designers, whereas Obama and Middleton successfully mix high-end designers with accessible high street labels that anyone can find and buy. Another reason may be that Brits don’t see Cameron, part of a more conservative political couple, as “cool” the way that we see the Obamas. She also makes less public appearances. Perhaps this week’s very public White House trip is one step in an effort to chance that perception.
What do you think of Cameron’s style?