CFDA joins Oscar de la Renta in questioning Michelle Obama’s state dinner dress

Laura Donovan Contributor
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Renowned fashionistas haven’t been pleased with First Lady Michelle Obama lately.

Last week, fashion designer Oscar de la Renta questioned the first lady’s choice of wearing a European-designed gown to the Jan. 19 China state dinner, a decision that De la Renta implied was not conducive to promoting Chinese-American trade. Today, Women’s Wear Daily reports that the Council of Fashion Designers of America has a similarly negative opinion of Michelle Obama’s state dinner dress.

“CFDA believes in promoting American fashion,”  CFDA president Diane Von Furstenberg said in a statement. “Our First Lady Michelle Obama has been wonderful at promoting our designers, so we were surprised and a little disappointed not to be represented for this major state dinner.”

But executive director Steven Kolb tried to give Michelle Obama the benefit of the doubt.

“When it comes right down to it, there are no greater American ambassadors in fashion than Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta. That’s just a fact, right?” Kolb said said. “Mrs. Obama is the First Lady, but she’s also an individual and she’s a woman. She’s going to dress in clothes that she looks good in and that she feels comfortable in. I don’t think she’s making a statement by not wearing someone.”

De la Renta said last week that the first lady should have given politics more consideration when selecting a state dinner gown.

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

The Dominican designer added that he doesn’t need the first lady as a customer, but that many young American designers could use her business.

“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.”