It all started with WWD's piece on Michelle Obama's current impact on the fashion industry. Needless to say, the First Lady has been ridiculously influential on the nation's style this year, but the article pointed out that she has "shown zero interest in the big guns of American fashion," possibly to the detriment of iconic American designers like Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein.
WWD really put an economic spin on the issue: "Might not a chic sighting of the First Lady in Ralph Lauren or Donna Karan prod some women to stroll through Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus?" And nestled amid sympathetic quotes about the demands of her schedule and tough choices by designers like Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta decided it was time to speak his mind.
"American fashion right now is struggling," the designer told WWD. "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 ... there are a lot of great designers out there. I think it's wrong to go in one direction only."
He even went so far as to bully her choice of wearing Isabel Toledo sleeveless dress and Azzedine Alaia cardigan to meet the royals in London saying, "You don't go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater." Oh snap! (Incidentally, it seems Bonnie Fuller agrees.
Fashionologie has comprehensive coverage of the entire affair, from Mickey Boardman's indignant rant on Paper ("It's beneath de la Renta's dignity as an elder statesman of American Fashion to consistently complain and criticize a First Lady who has done so much for American fashion") to de la Renta's uh-oh-I-may-be-causing-a-scene compliment for Mrs. Obama: "She has such great looks if she put on a potato sack, she would look great." Play nice, everybody.