Michelle Obama

Vanity Fair has released its annual international best-dressed list a few days earlier than the September issue where it appears, and though it is rife with the usual suspects (Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Jay-Z; Diane Kruger) what’s really interesting is who is NOT on it.Michelle Obama, for example, who was on it for the last few years. Christine Lagarde, who made it in 2011. And any titan of business or banking other than super-social hedge fund czar Arki Busson, and Matteo Marzotto, who owns Vionnet, a fashion brand. This strike anyone else as implausible? Read more

Much hoo-ha in the UK today over the fact that the Queen and First Lady Samantha Cameron seemed to be a little too matchy-matchy, thanks to their startling similar choice of dress shade, at the Number 10 lunch held yesterday for current and past PM’s as part of the Jubilee. Personally, however, I think the one-two message actually works in Britian’s favour. Indeed, it has been a good couple of days for women in the public eye, fashionably-speaking.

The general take appears to be this was a mistake for SamCam, since one is NEVER supposed to in any way steal thunder from the Queen – even though details of HM’s dress is never revealed beforehand, so how, exactly, the minefield is to be avoided is unclear. I guess you could do what Sarah Brown did and wear black. As far as I know, it’s a pretty safe bet the Queen, who believes in the power of the bright, will avoid that shade.

Personally, though, I think the one-two message actually works to Britain’s favour, especially in this pre-Olympic period, even if it happened by accident. The two most public women in the country look like…teammates! They look coordinated. Unified. And all those good sporting adjectives. They are on the same sartorial page.

Besides, if you want to get nit-picky, one is wearing a dress (by Jonathan Saunders, btw) and the other a skirt and jacket (presumably by her in-house dressmakers)

In fact, this has been a pretty good few days for women in the public eye in general: Hilary Clinton also eschewed her recent I-don’t-care-hair scrunchies-and-lank-locks looks for a bouncy blow-dry in Israel, followed by a really elegant twist. It’s a whole new hair stage for the Secretary.

So is there something in the water?

Indeed. It’s called Olympic/pre-election fever, in which those on the public stage are hyper-aware of the fact that they represent a country or a candidate, and must look, at all times, the part. Get ready, get set, let the image race begin.

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Yesterday at L’Wren’s Scott’s resort collection (her first), I saw what is possibly the best ever sartorial uniform for any female politician wanting to re-instate ye olde UK-US special relationship, or up it as it currently stands. It would also be a great look if Michelle Obama was planning to come to the London Olympics. And speaking of Olympians, guess who is the latest famous person to declare their desire to be a fashion designer? Read more

For so long, fashion was so good for the Obamas: it clothed them, made Mrs O into a celebrity whose every outfit was lovingly tracked, and won them kudos for promoting new business and helping young entrepreneurs. The way they looked – the labels they wore — positioned the First Couple as global, youthful, daring: a new brand to rebrand the country. And then, this week, it bit them. Read more

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney celebrate their victory in the Illinois GOP primary. Getty Images

Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney celebrate their victory in the Illinois GOP primary. Getty Images

The elevation of Mitt Romney to Republican nominee presumptive appears to have acted as a sort of spur to his wife Ann when it comes to her entrance into the imagineering race.

Michelle Obama famously has a blog (mrs-o.org) devoted to her style, after all, which puts her front and centre in many cultural conversations and positions her as a champion of business without her or her camp having to say a word — other than “J Crew” or “Jason Wu” or ”Narciso Rodriguez.” It’s taken until now for Mrs Romney to begin to fight fashion fire with fashion fire.

Mitt and Ann Romney on 'CBS This Morning'. CBS image

Mitt and Ann Romney on 'CBS This Morning'. CBS image

Or so it seems. After a primary season marked mostly by a sea of unidentifiable red suits, earlier this week Mrs R appeared with her husband on “CBS This Morning” wearing a T-shirt printed with bird images by the New York designer Reed Krakoff. It was the first time as far as I know that Mrs Romney had dipped a public toe in the branded fashion world.

And it was an…interesting choice, for two reasons. Read more

Well, what else to conclude from the fact Ms Wang’s recent bridal collection (for those who don’t obsessively follow the endless show schedule, this is wedding season) featured 15 — count ‘em — red gowns?

Vera Wang

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Time magazine has made its first foray into the world of best-dressed lists by releasing its own “All-Time 100 Fashion Icons” list, presumably in an effort to support its recently re-launched “Style and Design” issue.

The criteria, as stated, is “most influential”. This is fair enough, though vague: influential over who? The masses? The industry? International? The US? It’s unclear. The timeline begins in 1923, the year of the magazine’s birth. Again, fine. Fashion as we know it largely began then too (though it means Charles Frederick Worth is not on the list). It includes designers, brands, muses, photographers, models, editors and stylists — a good mix. The problem is in the seemingly random nature of the final choice. Read more

Should first ladies dress for themselves or their country or their
husband’s agenda? This is what I thought last night when Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron made their much-anticipated appearence at the White House’s “official” dinner for the British Prime Minister.

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There is a tendency, among political leaders, especially of the UK-US variety, to engage in sartorial covert diplomacy during state visits; for the visitor to effectively mirror the dress of the visitee in order to suggest a discrete sort of understanding of the agenda — at least as far as photo ops go. Yesterday, however, when David Cameron showed up for his current US trip, the changed nature of the relationship seemed to be reflected in his wardrobe. One day in, there’s been zero matchy-matchy.

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Today Jacob Weisberg coined what I think should become a representative catch-phrase of the 2012 US election along the lines of James Carville’s “it’s the economy, stupid,” in 1992 and Ronald Reagan’s “it’s morning in America” in 1984. To wit: he noted that Mitt Romney suffers from “the affliction of excessive handsomeness.”
Who knew there was such a problem? Such is the reality, it seems, of 21st century, recession-ridden America.
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This morning, looking at pictures of Kate Middleton in the black and white lace Alice Temperley gown she wore for her first royal film premier yesterday (Steven Speilberg’s “War Horse”), I was struck by the fact that it seems the Duchess of Cambridge only wears British designers for dress-up. There’s an interesting choice here.  Read more

Anyone else notice anything surprising about the Duchess of Cambridge’s appearance yesterday at a homeless shelter in a 350 GBP Ralph Lauren polo-neck dress? Let me repeat that: a GBP350 RALPH LAUREN polo neck dress. Ralph Lauren? An American designer on the Princess-to-be? Shocking!

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To a certain extent every national leader is in a form of costume every day of their term, but today this issue takes on a very specific meaning. Tonight, after all, thousands of children will dress up like everything from Leonid Brezhnev to Ninja turtles and though in 2009 the White House joined in the fun, with Michelle Obama dressing up like a cat complete with spotty ears and painted-on whiskers, this year, celebrating three days early, she opted for almost no costume at all. It’s a telling evolution.

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Wardrobe diplomacy – aka the practice of a national leader (or leading representative) wearing clothes from the country they are visiting as a form of economic and cultural outreach – is back. Diane von Furstenberg just told me she had learned from the folks at Harrods and Selfridge’s that the newly minted Duchess of Cambridge had bought two of her dresses to take with her on her North American tour, which begins at the end of next week.  Read more

Very interesting comment from a reader yesterday, noting that as Michelle Obama has become more established in her role, she has adopted more establishment designers. Read more

Last night Michelle Obama wore white Tom Ford to the Buckingham Palace banquet. Once again, she matched the Queen! I have to say, though, I’m not entirely convinced by the choice. And the more photos I see of it, the more it niggles.

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If the Obamas trip to the UK isn’t the most sartorially co-ordinated opening of a State visit in history, I’ll eat my Philip Treacy hat.

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Lately I can’t seem to escape stories in which various clothing manufacturers brag – publicly, with names – about how fast they are going to rip off the royal wedding dress as soon as Kate Middelton takes her first steps down the aisle at Westminister Abbery, and they can actually tell what she is wearing. But why is this so celebrated/accepted?

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I had an interesting lunch the other day with Jason Wu, a young Taiwanese-American designer in the uptown mode who shot to fame in 2009 when he designed the one-shouldered white gown Michelle Obama wore to the Presidential inaugural balls. Anyway, Mr Wu had some interesting observations about the experience, and advice for whomever ends up designing Catherine Middleton’s dress.
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The Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world is out and guess what: there’s only ONE fashion person on it: Tom Ford.  Read more