While most in the fashion set were thrilled to see the First Lady in a lush red McQueen gown at the state dinner earlier this week, venerable American designer Oscar de la Renta was less than thrilled with her decision not to wear an American designer to such a political event.
My understanding is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade — American products in China and Chinese products in America. Why do you wear European clothes?
Alexander McQueen is, of course, a house based in the UK and now helmed by a British designer, Sarah Burton. Dominican-born de la Renta has worked in the US for more than 50 years -- after training in Spain and working in Paris -- and has come to represent classic American fashion by, among other things, designing many a patriotic stand-by-your-man suit and gown for politicians and political wives. It should be noted, however, that the designer has not dressed the First Lady of the current administration.
While she didn't opt for a Chinese, American, or Chinese-American designer, the bold red hue was still a pointed wardrobe decision among many in Michelle Obama's style history: the color symbolizes luck and happiness in Chinese culture.