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This week Michelle Obama style watch took a hit (gasp!) when designer Arnold Scassi told Women's Wear Daily that, "obviously, she doesn't have the right advice at this moment." The comment was a not-so-subtle swipe at Ikram Goldman, who has been acting as Mrs. Obama's fashion consigliere and echoed sentiments recently expressed by Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang who have also gone on record to criticize our First Lady's style choices. "As [the wife of] the head of the most important country in the world, you must dress at some points according to protocol," Scassi miffed. "You don't have to be conventional."
Conventional is hardly what we would call Jason Wu's one-shouldered goddess gown that Obama selected for inauguration night. Pretty? Youthful? Effervescent? Yes. But conventional no. (And didn't Nancy Reagan wear a similar version by James Galanos to her husband's festive evening in 1981?) As if wearing a frock by a young industry up-and-comer wasn't offensive enough, the sartorial feathers of both stately designers were really ruffled by Obama's decision to wear an Azzedine Alaia cardigan to meet Queen Elizabeth earlier this month. De la Renta, who is always impeccable and charming, even went as far as to tell WWD, "you don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.'"
Perhaps the notion of letting go is too much for certain captains of industry. Fashion historians will recount that Scassi and de la Renta have had tenure as the go-to designers for presidential wives up until now. The former's reign began with the Eisenhower administration and lasted all the way through to the recently departed Mrs. Bush, while the latter also created garments for Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and both of the Bush women during their stay in the White House.
Egos aside, change was the theme of the election after all, and apparently that didn't just stop with the President's own cabinet.