Cathy Horyn makes a number of compelling points on her Times blog about the controversy surrounding Michelle Obama's (now practically infamous) red Alexander McQueen state dinner dress. That the dress was not of American origin doesn't bother Horyn, who takes issue with the CFDA expressing disappointment in Michelle's choice.
The truth is many of its members, including its president, Diane Von Furstenberg, manufacture a significant portion of their clothes outside the United States, mainly in Asia. Why wasn’t that mentioned in the WWD articles? The only explanation I have is that the C.F.D.A. has nothing to gain from being straightforward. But, apparently, it has everything to gain by goading the first lady into wearing American labels.
Here’s my problem with Mrs. Obama: I want her to be known for something other than her fashion. I want her to be a great first lady who truly cares about the lives of Americans at the time when many need help. I want her to be far more than “prime placement” for a dress label — whatever the country of origin. She supports a number of causes, notably healthful eating habits, but these deeds are being overshadowed by what she wears. Only she can change that perception. In March 2009, The Economist ran an excellent article about our new first lady that expressed the concern that she might become better known for her fashion rather than for her opinions. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening.
And Michelle is a very smart woman, whose aides, the Times reported in April of 2009, "are often immersed in policy discussions in the West Wing that are not publicized by the White House." The first lady carefully crafted her image — so much so that she wears her own clothes for all the lady mags she appears in. In those stories she talks about what she wears, raising her children, gardening, exercise, and living healthfully, much more than her political opinions.
Witch Hunt [On the Runway/NYT]