That was the description of what Washington is likely to be like next year as designers, pundits and social observers rushed Wednesday to define the Barack Obama Era in American politics even before it began. And one thing was clear: the reign of the 44th President-elect won’t be a New Camelot. Instead, he and his young family will bring their own youthful, low-key style to the White House.
Beyond the challenges the President-elect faces — from the economy to trade, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to energy — there was also a sense the Obamas are bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air to the nation’s capital — socially, culturally and stylistically. The socially downbeat years of the Bush administration may be replaced by a more open, upbeat White House, while the fashion industry was salivating at the prospect of having a First Couple who delight in nice clothes and wear them well.
“She will ignite the fashion industry,” Elie Tahari said simply of Michelle Obama. “She is young, pretty, smart and well put together. These are a lot of great qualities.”
Added Donna Karan: “We expect a role model. She is a mother, a wife. She has all the attributes that matter.”
The President-elect was said to be getting right down to business putting together his transition team and crafting his cabinet and key advisers. This includes the imminent naming of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D., Ill.), a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, as his chief of staff. Many former Clinton administration officials are expected to be part of Obama’s team, although political observers said he is committed to having a diverse, bipartisan group that will bring a fresh face to Washington.
The fashion industry was particularly interested in who would fill key trade and economic slots overseeing billions of dollars worth of trade and global commerce. Obama stressed a new approach to trade on the campaign trail, saying he would hold China accountable for unfair trade practices and promising to employ new environmental and labor standards in trading pacts.
Those inside and outside the fashion industry felt beyond Obama’s stance on the issues, which rang true with voters, his image as a new American president that can bring leadership to the country and lift the nation’s standing around the world were what made his candidacy so appealing. European leaders and newspapers reveled in Obama’s victory as marking a new relationship with the U.S. “Mister President” was the title of Le Monde’s 12-page supplement that included a photo journey of Obama’s road to achieve what the intellectual daily called a “Democratic tidal wave.” It also included a story devoted to Michelle Obama, “the youngest first lady since Jackie Kennedy.”
Here, a look at the next administration — from who might be in the President-elect’s cabinet to the international reaction to the election of the first African-American president in U.S. history and what the style of the Obama White House might be.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast