Oscar de la Renta unhappy with Michelle Obama’s state dinner dress choice

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta criticized First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009 for overlooking great clothing designers and frequently limiting herself to casual attire, and now he’s saying she should have taken politics into consideration when selecting a dress for the recent China state dinner.

The Dominican designer told Women’s Wear Daily that he was puzzled by Michelle Obama’s dress choice for the state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. The first lady donned a red gown crafted by British designer Sarah Burton, and de la Renta seemed to think that selecting an American dress would have been a better way to encourage Chinese-American trade.

“My understanding is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade — American products in China and Chinese products in America,” De la Renta said. “Why do you wear European clothes?”

De la Renta added that he’s not implying he needs the first lady as a customer.

“I’m not talking about my clothes, my business,” De la Renta said. “I’m old, and I don’t need it. But there are a lot of young people, very talented people here who do.”

De la Renta’s dresses have typically been popular with former First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna Bush Hager, and in 2006, Laura showed up to the Kennedy Center Honors event wearing the same De la Renta gown as three other attendees.