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Michelle Obama Shrugs Off Oscar De La Renta Jab: 'Women, Wear What You Love'

3 years ago
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First Lady Michelle Obama is shrugging off criticism from one of the biggest names in U.S. fashion, Oscar de la Renta, who questioned why she wore a dress by a British designer at the state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu Jintao.

After Mrs. Obama appeared in a red floral Alexander McQueen gown at the Jan. 19 state dinner, De la Renta told Womens Wear Daily, "My understanding, is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade -- American products in China and Chinese products in America. Why do you wear European clothes?"

He added, "Some people did not get the point. It's not [intended] to be negative. Do you think Kate Middleton is going to be married in Marc Jacobs? Or you'd see Carla Bruni dressing in American clothes? This is a big industry in this country. Mrs. Obama does look great. She should take that and do something. She could do a great good for our industry. We need to create jobs here, create jobs on Seventh Avenue, too."

During an interview for ABC's "Good Morning America," broadcast Friday, co-host Robin Roberts asked Mrs. Obama about De la Renta's remarks.

"Women, wear what you love. That's all I can say. That's my motto. It's nice to have on a nice suit, but it's a lot nicer to change a generation in terms of their health. It's a lot...better use of my time to focus on rallying this country around our military families," Mrs. Obama said.

"I mean, there's so much that I hope to do in this role that makes a difference in people's lives."

Mrs. Obama brushed aside the criticism from De la Renta as if the focus on what she wore was fluff. But she loves clothes, sets a fashion agenda, and can create a market demand with what she wears. She has a "widespread reputation as one of the most stylish women ever to inhabit the White House," writes Kate Betts in "Everyday Icon, Michelle Obama and the Power of Style," to be published next month.

In Mrs. Obama's last big public appearance, last Tuesday's "State of the Union," she wore a dress by U.S. designer Rachel Roy.

FOOTNOTE: Buying U.S. goods is a policy initiative pushed by her husband's administration. Just last month the Transportation Department launched a "Buy America" website. A component of President Obama's signature economic stimulus legislation -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- calls for purchasing U.S. products with stimulus funds.

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lmrfood

This isn't about Mr. de la Renta being "ruffled"...he had the epiphany to point out the obvious! Mrs. Obama is being watched by the "world". Doing "what you want fashion-wise" is great on someone else's time. She is representing the USA-has access to any designer she wants at any time.....she needs to look amazing and be appropriate--all while being politically correct. She can do it all because of her position---that red dress does look good on her-why she couldn't find something similar w/ an American designer---that's why Americans r upset w/ her choices....they contradict her husband's "BUY American Initiative".

February 06 2011 at 8:45 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
alakatt

The First Lady isn't an easy lady to dress. She's not the 'ideal' size and it is difficult to make someone of her stature look 'smooth and elegant'. In her defense, I believe she's tried to 'modernize' the look of the First Lady. However, as First Lady, there are certain things she and her designers have ignored. Protocol calls for the First Lady to be the example and the representative to other countries of the rest of us. Personally, I am offended when the First Lady wears a casual sweater set and skirt to meet the Queen of England. I'm also offended when the First Lady of my country, wears a dress designed and made in Europe while trying to get the Chinese to even up trade with my country. Do they just ignore any kind of protocol in the White House, these days? It's sad that they've wasted their opportunity to be good examples of America.

February 05 2011 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
pbutler257

First, I commend AOL for the new policy of requiring comments to meet civil standards for public communication.

While I agree with Michelle Obama's commonsense suggestion that women should wear "what they love," it seems that her privileged access to getting the clothes she finds comfortable and becoming blinds her to the fact that most women are limited to whatever the fashion industry chooses to throw at them each year. Why, for example, have I had to wait forty years for the return of the flared skirts, fitted waists, and graceful lower heeled shoes that I "love" because they are becoming to me? I wish that Mrs. Obama would use her bully pulpit to advise women to teach the fashion czars, male and female, a good lesson by leaving their ill-designed and poorly made products on the rack.

February 05 2011 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
mrysmmr8

Mrs. Obama always looks great. I look forward to seeing what she is wearing and wish I could look that good. But that's part of her job, to look good. Why not wear a dress from somewhere else once in a while, acknowledging that America does not have a monopoly on design? She mostly wears American designers who no doubt have profitted greatly from her choices. But most of all, she's not just a clothes horse but out there promoting healthy lifestyles for all Americans - and she makes that clear while brushing aside petty criticism.

February 05 2011 at 9:45 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
gatheredtogether

When was the last time we saw any clothes made in America? I see clothes being made in the strangest places and wondering how that happen. Even Levi jeans are not made in America anymore. All the factories here in Missouri are gone (shoes and clothing). First Lady Michelle does represent us well when she dresses in what she loves and looks best in. Who designed it or where it was made is beside the point. She has given a boost to a lot of young American designers. And yes, JCrew is made overseas but they are an American company. When Nancy Reagan was First Lady, a lot of people complained she was asking for free clothes from American designers and consulting astrologers for the good and bad days for Ronnie to go out (cover for Alzheimer's?). These ladies can't get a break.
Why don't we focus on the good things they do and stop politicizing everything?

February 04 2011 at 11:46 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
gatheredtogether

Michelle has worn a lot of American designers as well as companies like J Crew. She is hip and wears beautiful clothes that show off her figure and represent us well to the world. Oscar's just mad because she isn't wearing his fuddy duddy clothes.

February 04 2011 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Eric the Great

Her husband, the POTUS, has a strong campaign to "Buy American." We don't need our relationship with the UK promoted when we're trying to improve US-Chinese communication. What does it matter what anyone else drives? We're not the president or his wife. Quit letting her off so easy, she needs to be accountable for even the smallish decisions. She needs to know that she is representing the U.S. even if she doesn't want to do so. She has an obligation. We all know she doesn't like living in the white house, but she hasn't left yet. If she wants to live in "the People's house," she needs to do right by The People.

February 04 2011 at 12:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eric the Great's comment
Dawn

Get real, you statement has nothing to do with what is right, you just don't like Michelle Obama. She is doing right by the people by engaging in good causes. I am sure the chinese president had no clue who her designer was nor cared.

February 05 2011 at 10:55 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Eric the Great

Her clothing IS an issue. It's such a "controllable" aspect of her life, and her choice to promote businesses NOT in the U.S. is detremental to the nation. Small potatoes compared to everything that's going on? Yes, maybe. However, it's the message that she's sending. She would rather do what she wants and wear what she wants, than sending a message of patiotism that backs her husband's project of encouraging to "buy American." Sure, $3,000 on a dress won't make a difference on our national deficite. But what about the American worker? What about the American designers? I suppose her thought is "It's just one dress." So it's just one American? Just one voter? Just one sale?

Come on, Michelle. We all know that you don't really care about America, you despise living in the white house, and you're simply a trophy wife for the President and if he was anyone else, you would have left by now.

February 04 2011 at 12:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Eric the Great's comment
tea0822

Michelle is the most beautiful and Intelligent First Lady in decades. Jackie Kennedy was very beautiful but she smoked cigarettes like crazy but there was an un-written rule that you just do not show Jackie Kennedy smoking because that is not what people wanted to see.

February 04 2011 at 7:19 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
Araba

Dang, they still make clothes in America because I can't find any.

February 03 2011 at 4:04 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
tikytata

Oscar De La Renta was not favorable towards BLACK MODELS.He and the other high fashion designers.She likes who she likes and wears what she wants. Just like designers like what they like and hire who they want.
GET OVER IT !!!!

February 01 2011 at 11:44 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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