He's dressed every First Lady in the past 30 years except Michelle Obama. But at the rate Oscar de la Renta is going, she won't be coming around any time soon.
The charismatic designer is taking a stand on Obama's choice of attire for the recent state dinner.
While she looked perfectly lovely in a red and black dress by Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton, both the house and the designer are British, which is a bit of an odd choice while representing the U.S. at a dinner to honor China in the presence of its president, Hu Jintao. The dress was red, which is a symbol of happiness and presperity in Chinese culture (de la Renta's brides traditionally wear the fiery color).
De la Renta wasn't buying it. "My understanding is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade -- American products in China and Chinese products in America," the designer told WWD. "Why do you wear European clothes?"
To counter those thinking he's just miffed at not getting his due, he added, "I'm not talking about my clothes, my business. I'm old, and I don't need it. But there are a lot of young people, very talented people here who do."
And he's taken on the cause of the American designer in the past as well, speaking out after the First Lady visited London in 2009. "American fashion right now is struggling. I think I understand what [Obama and her advisers] are doing, but I don't think that is the right message at this particular point," he told WWD. "I don't object to the fact that Mrs. Obama is wearing J. Crew because the diversity of America is what makes this country great. But there are a lot of great designers out there. I think it's wrong to go in one direction only."
And he added, "You don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater," knocking Obama's widely praised ensemble.
It seems the need for diplomacy goes beyond foreign affairs -- perhaps there is a need for a "Fashion Summit?"
De la Renta's representative did not return an email for additional comment. Meanwhile read about how the designer also thinks that brides should leave their moms at home when dress shopping.
Want more First Lady fashion? Check out Michelle Obama's best outfits of 2010.