I get it.
Next to Angelina Freakin’ Jolie, she’s one of the most photographed women in the world and she’s practically rubbing your nose in it by re-wearing her green Jimmy Choos and her favorite belt, rocking the J. Crew and random new kid designers and doesn’t have a stylist — just a loyal boutique owner — as her gate keeper. How dare she be … different, and not fawn all over the uptown crowd in the fashion industry.
Boo hoo, fashion industry. Boo hoo, for you.
Apparently the inevitable backlash of the (moneyed) fashionistas has begun. Nothing with names tied to it, of course (less they ruin their chances of getting the First Lady to don their frocks), but people are grumbling. Folks who used to be able to saunter right into the front door, bypassing everyone else, now must go through the same, slow pecking order whether you’re Kai Milla or Oscar de la Renta. Michelle O. doesn’t care. There is no fast track to lay hands on her body and dress her in finery.
You have to wait like everybody else and it has the IMPORTANT PEOPLE burning.
(B)ehind the scenes fashion industry figures are beginning to suggest that the First Lady’s prominence as a style pace setter is something of a double edged sword.
Designers, PRs and media commentators are united in the view that Mrs Obama has reignited popular interest in the fashion industry and given valuable publicity to previously obscure young American designers, like Mr Wu and Isabel Toledo, who designed Mrs Obama’s yellow inauguration day wear. Clothes by Maria Pinto have flown off the shelves after Mrs Obama wore them during television appearances and on the campaign trail.
But there is also concern that the First Lady’s determination to pick her own clothes, and mix expensive designer fare with high street brands like J. Crew (a mix and match approach on display in the Vogue photo shoot), does no favours to the established top end designers who expect women to pay thousands for a single outfit.
And beneath it all runs the fault line which informs everything the Obama family do in the public eye, the thorny issue of race. Put simply, many in the fashion trade are struggling to come to terms with a black woman as America’s leading style icon.
Amy Larocca, a fashion writer with New York magazine, an influential style arbiter, said: “There lurks an unspoken, uneasy relationship between the industry and its newest icon. The industry is overwhelmingly white, both in its makeup and its view of its customer.
“Not long ago, Stefano Pilati, the designer of Yves Saint Laurent, saw no problem [saying] that black models just don’t look right in his clothes. Vogue has only ever had five black celebrities on its cover.”
(Source: UK Telegraph)
Cry me a fucking river! Oh dear. Are these the SAME designers who wouldn’t hire black models like Chanel Iman, Denise Vasi, Noemie Lenoir, Naomi Campbell, Alex Wek, et al because they might “distract from the clothes?”
Because we’re that good looking, apparently. So gorgeous we can’t strut the catwalk lest someone’s rags look like rags by comparison. I call bull shit! Maybe your clothes are just U-G-L-Y and you have no albi. They’re ugly. Butt ugly.
And it doesn’t matter how light or dark the girls are. Some years you’re hard pressed to see a black model anywhere near a runway with the exception of maybe Campbell who is the Highlander of super models.
For years the fashion industry has lived in a fantasy world where all women were damn-near Nordic white, 5’11” and 110 lbs. Now we have a tall, super brown First lady who is athletic in her build and looks good in a paper sack and sacre bleu! What to do when you’ve ignored huge segments of planet earth for decades? Can you continue the ostrich with your head in the sand routine and continue to design pasty, dull heroin chic outfits for Kate Moss or can you dig it and stop treating black folks (as well as Asians and Latinas) as some sort of fashion modeling equivalent of “The Death Star” where your overpriced pieces of “art” go to die?
The article goes on to state that some, like the Council of Fashion Designers of America, are trying to talk the big wigs off the ledge, reminding them that despite Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley’s insistence, Michelle Obama cannot single-handily save their crappy industry in this recession.
Don’t make her a “false saviour of their business in troubled economic times,” they say.
But when you’re used to nothing getting between your Calvins and the White House, you’re bound to have an identity crisis.
“The way Michelle Obama dresses is not her stimulus package to the fashion industry.” (Kolb) said she would inspire “that working mother with kids who knows the big designer names but also shops at J. Crew and the Gap. She’s who they are.” But that has done little to calm some top name designers, who are used to making hugely expensive clothes for stick thin models and are ill at ease that Mrs Obama’s popularity has done little to boost sales of their most expensive items.
As Amy Larocca put it: “Michelle Obama seems poised to lead the fashion world to the promised land, where every woman can have great style. But for fashionistas, as of yet, that is a very confusing place to be.”
Mrs Obama’s difficult relationship with top name designers was laid bare last week when it emerged that Ikram Goldman, the Chicago-based boutique owner who helps organise the First Lady’s wardrobe, requested designs from industry legends for the inauguration week events and then never even told them their designs had not been selected. None of them had any contact with Mrs Obama, as is usual with First Ladies. They worked instead from measurements supplied by Ms Goldman.
Oscar de la Renta’s office told the New York Times they “never heard another word” after he sent 12 sketches. Carolina Herrera’s offerings were turned into nan outfit for the White House social secretary, but not for Mrs Obama. Other prominent designers, including Vera Wang, Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein and Ralph Rucci, were never approached at all.
If Michelle Obama convinces women that they don’t need to blow $10,000s of dollars on a clothing life style their bougie asses can’t really afford, bully for her. And if she convinces the industry that black biracial, Asian and Latina models shouldn’t be treated as some kind of freaks, even better. Until then, everyone else needs to take a long sip of STFU and start designing pants that are more flattering to us who have a derriere that is prominent whether at 110 lbs or 210 lbs.
Seriously, it is hard for a sister to buy a decent pair of pants.
Get crackin’, whiners.