Lest anyone question the power of fashion, a week after the fact, people are still debating Michelle Obama’s choice of a British McQueen frock for the state dinner in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao. And this, in the midst of a busy news week that has included confirmation of a serial killer on the loose on Long Island, a horrific airport attack in Moscow, Keith Olbermann’s abrupt exit from MSNBC, two NFL conference championship games, announcement of the Oscar nominees and the run-up to Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
While recovering from her skiing accident, CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg sent a statement to WWD explaining the Council’s position on the issue. “CFDA believes in promoting American fashion,” the statement read. “Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been wonderful at promoting our designers, so we were surprised and a little disappointed not to be represented for this major state dinner.”
In a later conversation, Steven Kolb, the CFDA’s executive director, stressed the importance of showcasing American fashion on the global scale. “[That’s] one of the things that’s been our priority at the CFDA last year and will continue this year,” Kolb said. “For a lot of designers, their ability to grow their businesses is going to be in the global marketplace. In some instances, there’s really no growth in the U.S. and [these designers] need to do that to succeed. That’s important to us. So anytime that there’s a stage or international setting that you can celebrate American fashion, it’s a good thing.”
Though Kolb, too, expressed disappointment at Obama’s choice for the dinner — he nonetheless thought she looked fabulous in her red-and-black Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen — he stressed how much Obama has done for American fashion, from an overall morale standpoint and specifically for younger designers. He considers dressing the First Lady, “the pinnacle” for a designer. Especially early in their careers, he said, it instills confidence in designers “to know that what they’re doing is interesting and is appreciated by someone of her level.”
Kolb cited Joel Diaz of Jolibe, a participant in the CFDA’s Fashion Incubator program, whose work was scouted by Obama’s wardrobe adviser, Chicago boutique-owner Ikram Goldman. “Mrs. Obama wore his skirt. That, to him, was such encouragement,” Kolb said. “It’s validation in a lot of ways.”
Asked if he thinks Obama should incorporate more clothes from major designers into her public wardrobe, Kolb implied that, while such occasional sightings might be nice, the First Lady should feel no pressure to wear clothes that don’t suit her. “When it comes right down to it, there are no greater American ambassadors in fashion than Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta. That’s just a fact, right?” he said. “Mrs. Obama is the First Lady, but she’s also an individual and she’s a woman. She’s going to dress in clothes that she looks good in and that she feels comfortable in. I don’t think she’s making a statement by not wearing someone. She’s just choosing clothes as a woman.”
As for whether Obama’s forays into the worlds of Azzedine, Junya and others have released all future first ladies from the expectation of wearing primarily American clothes, Kolb hopes not, at least for most of their public lives. “I believe one has individual choice and preferences,” he said. “For the President and First Lady, part of that is spotlighting America, American jobs, American industry, American innovation. She can do that.”
In honor the @CFDA’s announcement of @iamnaomicampbell receiving the Fashion Icon Award at the 2018 #CFDAAwards, which will take place on June 4, here’s a #tbt of the supermodel on @michaelkors’ runway in 1991. #wwdfashion #wwdarchive (📷: George Chinsee)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech during @sxsw for @createcultivate in partnership with @fossil. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.