US election

The burning questions of: 1) whether Anna Wintour’s new big job at Conde Nast will mean she steps down her maybe-possibly-political ambitions and involvement; and 2) to whom she will lend her formidable bundling skills to now President Obama is in his second term have both been resoundingly put to rest – by Ms Wintour herself. Finally! we can sleep at night.

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The Anna-Wintour-for-ambassador rumours that have surrounded the US Vogue editor in chief ever since she became a “super-bundler” for Barack Obama have picked up steam lately: on Monday, even erstwhile presidential non-contender Donald Trump offered his two cents on the matter (“I think she’d be an amazing choice”). But c’mon guys: let’s think about this realistically for the moment.

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Four years ago last week, Michelle Obama stepped into the public eye on election night wearing a red-and-black Narciso Rodriguez dress that launched an obsession. It was an obsession about what she wore and how she wore it – and that in turn launched the careers of numerous designers, popularised the concept of high/low dressing and upturned the unspoken law that said First Ladies must wear only American designers. Along the way, it redefined what “American” designer actually meant: Cuban-American (Isabel Toledo), Chilean-American (Maria Cornejo), Chinese-American (Jason Wu) and Nepalese-American (Prabal Gurung).

Last Tuesday, in the same situation, thumbs-up and hugging her husband as he officially won his second term as US president, Mrs Obama ended that conversation.

Last night, appearing on stage to celebrate her husband’s next four years as President, Michelle Obama did something interesting: she wore an old dress. Specifically, she wore a burgundy Michael Kors brocade dress she has worn TWICE — count ‘em — before. Given the amount of attention her clothes get, and what her choices can do for a designer, this was a clear statement about a desire to move the conversation. We’ve talked about this dress already, after all. Now let’s talk about what not getting a new dress means. Read more

Last night in their last ditch rallies, both Ann Romney and Michelle Obama, first-ladies-in-waiting, demonstrated interesting differences in cover-up style. I am not talking about political subterfuge. I’m talking about coats. Read more

Whoever wins the American presidential race next Tuesday, one thing is certain: he will accept his election in a single-breasted dark suit, white shirt and (it’s 99 per cent sure) red or blue tie. How do we know this?

If anyone is in doubt about how President Obama will look tonight, during the last debate of this increasingly close election, here’s a clue, courtesy of Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair profile. Read more

Two men: both in dark suits, white shirts, little flag pins; one in red tie, one in blue tie.

One week later: same men, dark suits, white shirts, little flag pins; one in red tie, one in blue tie. Read more

Whoops. Last night both Michelle Obama and Ann Romney wore matching hot pink ensembles to watch their hubbies, in similarly matching dark suit-white-shirt-little flag-pin ensembles – verbally duke it out at Hofstra University. Given how close this election seems to be, both though it was probably time for a bold statement, reaching out to women, attracting the “soft” vote, showing awareness of healthcare issues, etc. It’s just unfortunate they chose the same statement. Read more

Mitt Romney wavering between red and blue ties, Paul Ryan’s ill-fitting suits, Barack Obama’s undone knots, Michelle Obama’s move away from Oscar de la Renta and Ann Romney’s embrace of the same – all the sartorial talk during the Republican and Democratic conventions of the past two weeks. Does any of it really matter?

Shouldn’t we focus on the debate, reality and fantasy surrounding the candidates – on Medicare, abortion, taxes, the euro and the renminbi? Isn’t this obsessive litany and analysis of what our public figures wear and how they wear it unseemly, old-fashioned, sexist (there was much more comment on Ann Romney’s red dress than her husband’s red tie) and superficial?

In one of those cosmic coincidences of timing, the last night of the Democratic convention, where President Obama talked often about the long hard, road ahead, also coincided with Fashion’s Night Out, that sybaritic extravaganza of shopping and schmoozing (well, mostly schmoozing, if you listen to retailers who Do Not Want to be Named) that also happened to mark the first day of New York Fashion Week. It made for a pretty powerful contrast. STill, my favourite fashion moment was not the Karaoke at Michael Kors, but rather what was on stage at the DNC, from Mr O’s tie to Mrs O’s new designer. Read more

If anyone still doubted the fact that the Obama camp is embracing former President Bill Clinton and vice versa, last night’s convention put an end to it, not only because of what the former President said, very eloquently, but because of how the two men looked. I mean – this is like high school: they’re almost matching! Read more

Last night at the DNC, during a pre-speech convention interview, First Lady Michelle Obama (then wearing DVF) told Deborah Norville , who was excitedly asking her what she was going to wear on stage, that she didn’t know, and she would pick what she likes. Frankly, after seeing her choice — a dress by an African-American female designer from Detroit, Tracy Reese — I believe this like I believe gullible isn’t in the dictionary. Read more

Despite having displayed an admirable consistency during the campaign thus far, dress if not policy-wise, yesterday night Mitt Romney gave up the sartorial fight, and switched sides. Yes, like so many of his winning predecessors before him, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush (once), for his speech accepting the Republican party nomination for President, he wore…a red tie. Why do we care?
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A number of questions were answered about Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s VP pick, during his speech last night at the Republican Convention last night. Would he come out fighting? Check. Would he address the Medicare issue? Kind of. Would he make winning jokes about his new boss? Check. Would his famously ill-fitting, too baggy suits, which Esquire likened to a trash bag, be given a Sarah-Palin-type makeover? Nope. Now the question is: why not?
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Oscar de la Renta, the designer who was for decades the bipartisan go-to man for first ladies from Nancy Reagan to Hillary Clinton to Laura Bush (he even made Jenna Bush’s wedding dress), but who has been somewhat sidelined during the Obama years, stepped back onto centre stage last night in Tampa — metaphorically speaking — thanks to Ann Romney, whose brilliant, very Republican red, belted dress came from the brand. It was a meaningful choice, alluding to Washington tradition as well as the LA-NY-DC financial/social nexus, for whom Mr De La Renta is a go-to name. And it put Mrs Romney in pretty stark opposition to Michelle Obama. Read more

Ok, well, those political pundits had to talk about something when the first day of the Republican convention got cancelled. So on what have they focused their searing analytical eyes? The news that Glamour magazine, the elephant (yes, the Republicans have a creeping influence on our linguistic sub-conscious) in the Conde Nast stable, has snagged an interview with President Obama. The general reaction: Glamour ergo fluff. But is this fair? Read more

Is it possible to call an election based on clothes? This is the kind of question that occupies my mind as I sit idly by the pool on vacation in the weird fallow period before the next big political event begins in the US: the presidential race.

Weird, I know. Some people watch clouds and see ice-cream cones and bunnies; I watch clouds and see donkeys and elephants. But I know I’m not the only one.

Allow me to toot our own horn here for a moment, and note there’s a very interesting piece today in the FT by my colleague Stephanie Kirchgaessner on various industries and the presidential candidate they support. Romney seems to have come out on top in a bunch of them, at least as far as donations go but at least one other industry that wasn’t on the list skews very heavily BO (unfortunate initials, I know): fashion.
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