Monday, June 9, 2008

NYT: She Dresses to Win

Michelle (wearing Maria Pinto) and the family photographed for Vogue Magazine.

The New York Times ran an article about Michelle Obama's image and style yesterday, oddly comparing her, in one aspect, to the two matronly Bush First Ladies. Both of those women, says the piece, used humor to make their spouses seem more relatable. Taking it a step further, the author claims that Michelle Obama also uses her clothing to temper her high falutin' education and credentials by wearing feminine lady like ensembles instead of corporate lawyerly power suits. That part puzzled me because honestly, I've known a few rainmaking women in my work realtionships and trust me, they are not all into severe pulled back hair and pant suits.

Says Vogue's ALT:

“Everyone knows that people respond to the way you look when you run for office,” André Leon Talley, an editor-at-large for Vogue, which featured Mrs. Obama as an “It” girl in its April issue, said last week in an interview. “A black Camelot moment is the right moment for the Obamas,” he added. “And so the faux pearls, the A-line dresses, the Jackie flip are obviously all part of how her image strategy has evolved.”

Mrs. Obama's penchant for sleeveless sheaths and shifts, that now coveted Azzedine Alaïa belt, large pearls, and knee length dresses have evoked the Jacqueline Kennedy comparison on more than one occasion. The shift dress she wore on the cover of Newsweek some months ago was similar to one that Jackie wore on a trip to India in 1962. Barack himself jokingly referred to his wife as "Jackie O from the hood" last summer and Radar magazine wrote that Obama's mimicry of the famous First Lady's style has everything to do with try to "underline their candidate's dignity and cross-racial appeal."

When Barack wrapped up the nomination last week, there were three things on the minds of many. First came the pride filled "OMG! OMG! OMG!" exclamations from the masses, then (for the unhip) the comical hullabaloo about the fist bump and lastly the, chorus of "Where did she get that dress?"

From the NYT piece:

What Ms. Taylor [Mikki Taylor of Essence Magazine] read in Mrs. Obama’s appearance on Tuesday, she said, was a message that she is primed to become first lady, although not necessarily first hostess. “Every woman I talked to was saying how she has this confidence that is empowered,” Ms. Taylor said. “The purple dress, the legs that I have to believe were bare and not wearing the prerequisite suntan stockings, all say, ‘I’m here to do business.’ ”

Of course, a public figure like Michelle Obama is scrutinize very closely, her every movement, word and gesture is immediately dissected. I wrote previously that the would be First Lady has enjoyed a relationship with sophisticated designer Maria Pinto for years. In my view Michelle Obama is fortunate enough to know what type of clothing best accentuates herself. If her classic style harkens back to Jackie O's unfussy elegance then she is in good company.

ETA: Now in Fashion: Michelle Obama from Fashion Week Daily.


skywardprodigal said...

Excellent post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

She is amazing!

aulelia said...

i do think some of these mags go on a bit too much about Jackie O. Like most people, designers have an impact on how clothes appear, even on a person.

but michelle, love her! she really is an inspiration.

Anonymous said...
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Danielle said...

Michelle is a confident Grown Woman who knows who she is. There's nothing finer. Good for her and I am enjoying this blog so much.

LeAnne@Hairs My Story Team said...

She does dress wonderfully, with a slight tinge of rock n' roll. Like the one dress she had with the ruffled collar.