Some of this nation's top fashion writers — Cathy Horyn, Kate Betts, and Robin Givhan — have defended the Alexander McQueen dress Michelle Obama wore to the state dinner in honor of China a few weeks ago. The upset over the gown was stirred by the American fashion industry itself — designers Diane Von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta most notably — who suggested it was Michelle Obama's duty as first lady to wear American designers, especially to high-profile, internationally celebrated events. Designer Nanette Lepore has been fighting for years to preserve and draw attention to the plight of New York's garment industry. She offers her perspective on the first lady's fashion choices in the Huffington Post, responding to Michelle's quote, "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."
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.
...Like all businesses in America, fashion needs support from its leadership. It's important for Americans to buy American-made products, and we look to our First Lady and the President to set that standard. When she wears an American designer to a high profile international event she communicates to the world that the American fashion industry is significant and relevant. That makes a difference.
She and Michelle are fighting for their causes, and you can't blame them for that. But with the industry so swept up in patriotism just two days — two! — before Fashion Week starts, why not herald its opening with a singing of the national anthem in Lincoln Center Plaza? This is our Super Bowl, after all. Besides, Christina Aguilera's rates may have been reduced.
The First Lady's Dress [HuffPo]