Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A First Class Recession Fighter

This past weekend, an article in the New York Times about our beloved new First Lady, Michelle Obama, caught my eye. It claimed that Michelle Obama was the key to getting out of our recession, at least on the fashionista side of the population. I do love what Michelle is doing for the world of political fashion; seeing Thakoon floral sheath dresses instead of stuffy Oscar de la Renta suits (nothing wrong with Oscar de la Renta, it's just...it gets a little bit repetitive) on someone like Michelle was just so refreshing. The best part about it was, she wasn't labeled as a simple auxiliary to President Obama because of her attire. I know that sounds weird, but it's nice to know that women don't have to wear stuffy suits just to be taken seriously. That is in no way a dig to Hillary Clinton and her suits, by the way. I also don't think it's right for people to obsess over Hillary Clinton's attire in such a negative way; though I do not mind the positive attention that Michelle Obama has been getting.

Sorry, that introduction got a little out of hand. What I was getting at is the series of sketches for Michelle Obama's Inauguration Ball gown that are featured on Vogue.com. We've seen numerous sketches from designers like Betsey Johnson to Zac Posen, and even past Project Runway contestants. Now Vogue is asking whether a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund participant will be the one to dress Michelle for this grand event. Let's have a look at the sketches, shall we?

Alexander Wang

Love Alexander Wang. Hate this idea. I mean, it's nice for a up-and-coming starlet who's daring enough to venture into the trend-world of PVC and leather and other shiny black materials. Even without the gargantuan back cutout, it's still kind of...strange...for an Inaugural Ball. Alexander Wang claims that this dress is "business in the front, party in the back..." but it kind of scares me that he's likening his dress to a mullet. It does pain me to be this negative about an Alexander Wang design, and on a different person I might like it, but it really is not appropriate for an Inaugural Ball.

Albertus Swanepoel

The idea of pillbox hats seems cute, but perhaps a little too Jackie O for me. I realize that Michelle Obama is the "new Jackie O," but still, I was hoping that sheaths would be her trademark, instead of outfits suited more for the body type of the past First Lady.

Vena Cava

I like the idea that Vena Cava brings up of wearing a contemporary-priced designer to the inaugural ball, but I can't say I'm in love with the sketch. The description sounds wonderful, but I'm not quite sold on the print featured in the sketch...it looks a bit too much like an M. C. Escher optical illusion. The silhouette looks promising though, and it's nice to see someone's sketch on a woman that has a little more meat and bones on her than your average toothpick.


I will say that this is quite lovely, even if it does seem a bit stereotypically Marchesa. It's a beautiful, red carpet-worthy gown that's modest enough for a political event. It would be perfect for a more girly, princess-like character but it seems to me like this isn't exactly Michelle's style. The few girly additions to Mrs. Obama's attire were Erickson Beamon brooches, and those were on the modern side. This is a gorgeous dress though, and again, the appropriately-sized model is promising.

Derek Lam

This is my favourite out of all the entries (of the CFDA group; there have been many more by larger designers). The dress is just as red carpet worthy as the one above, but the style is much more modern and sleek and less "Cinderella." The colour would look absolutely wonderful against Michelle's skin, and the black belt is reminiscent of many of the sheath dresses worn on the campaign. In real life, I'd be worried about two things. First, the creasing. Michelle's going to be doing a lot of moving around, and I think that she would not like the idea of a personal steamer following her around everywhere. Second, the high-fashion-ness of such a dress. This is sort of insulting, I know, but without the proper execution and following of details, this dress could look like something most women could get at Nordstrom off the rack. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Michelle looking like a regular lady, I would just say that with a gown like this, the fit and cut have to be perfect, and the pleating details have to be there...otherwise it might look a bit bland.


I get what Doo-Ri Chung was going for here, but I'm not sure if that print is quite right. Michelle wore many flattering sheath dresses on the campaign, and I think that if this occasion were a pick-your-own-formality one, she might be better off opting for a sheath that's not floor-length. Unfortunately, it looks like Mrs. Obama might not have that choice. But even if she did, I think that there are a lot more sheath dresses that look a little bit more...special? I'm not sure that's the right word. I suppose that this dress just doesn't really say "Michelle Obama" to me.

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