There’s no doubt that when Michelle Obama came onto the political scene in 2007, fashion folks were elated. She was heralded as the next Jackie Kennedy: One half of a power couple that was both sophisticated and hip–a sharp contrast from the image cultivated by Laura and George Bush. She wore emerging designers like Jason Wu and Thakoon Panichgul (who soon after became household names) and J.Crew and H&M. Before Barack was even elected, Michelle had already landed herself a glowing Vogue profile, inspired dozens of fan blogs which profiled her every outfit and counted several big-name industry players, including Anna Wintour and Jenna Lyons, as supporters.
Fast forward four years, and Michelle Obama is back on the campaign trail with a new sartorial competitor: Ann Romney. Romney has all the makings of a political wife fashion icon: She’s pretty, she’s blonde and, unlike past aspiring first ladies, she has at least a passing interesting in fashion. She’s worn new and established designers (Reed Krakoff, Oscar de la Renta, respectively) as well as contemporary cool brand J.Brand, and we think she always manages to look pretty great (if conservative). But despite all this, the fashion industry is noticeably cooler towards Romney.
We receive press release upon press release about Michelle’s campaign wardrobe and it’s become a major coup for a designer to dress Michelle Obama. But we’ve yet to receive one–one–about Ann Romney’s.
When Ann wore a stunning red Oscar de la Renta to the RNC, there was not a peep from his PR team, while we received several notices about Michelle’s DNC wardrobe from Tracey Reese and Laura Smalls respectively. When Romney wore a printed Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, DVF’s PR team not only ignored it, but effectively distanced themselves from her saying they were “not quite sure how she obtained the dress.”
Sure, Michelle is the First Lady, and Romney is only an aspiring one–but there’s more to it than that. Michelle had stolen the hearts of the fashion industry well before she was first lady. Besides, no one can deny that fashion’s involvement in politics is now more important than ever–precisely because landing a spot in Michelle’s wardrobe has become such a coup for designers. So what gives? Why are no designers claiming Ann?