April 3rd, 2009
09:52 PM ET
12 years ago

Oscar de la Renta has tough words for Michelle Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/03/art.michelle.gi.jpg caption=" Oscar de la Renta thinks Michelle Obama should not have worn a sweater to Buckingham Palace."](CNN) - Michelle Obama's fashion choices at the G20 summit have drawn widespread praise, but at least one famous designer thinks the fist lady made a major faux pas in her wardrobe choice for a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II.

"You don't...go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater," Oscar de la Renta told Woman's Wear Daily regarding Mrs. Obama's decision to wear a cardigan over an Isabel Toledo-designed dress for the private meeting.

De la Renta also said the first lady - who often sports relatively affordable American brands - should broaden her wardrobe and seize an opportunity to spur the flailing fashion industry.

“American fashion right now is struggling,” he said. “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."

"I don’t object to the fact that Mrs. Obama is wearing J. Crew to whatever 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," he added.

But J. Crew is likely hoping the first lady doesn't change her style any time soon. When Mrs. Obama was photographed wearing a $300 J. Crew "crystal constellation" cardigan from the mid-market retailer Tuesday, the item sold out on the company's Web site only hours later.

A spokesman for J. Crew said the item has also  sold out in nearly all the company’s stores as well.

Filed under: Michelle Obama
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Diane

    Hey Oscar, maybe Michelle was cold! Why don't you back off and get a life already?

    April 3, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  2. LisaB

    And the winner of the Most Out of Touch with the Common Man Award goes to . . . Oscar de la Renta!!!! His opinion on this issue is ridiculous and irrelevant in the large scheme of things.

    April 3, 2009 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. Margo

    It's clear that Oscar de la Renta resents the fact that Michelle Obama is not spending $150,000 on a wardrobe from Oscar de la Renta.

    Someone should remind Mr. de la Renta that the Obamas were invited to a private social meeting – to take tea with the Queen and her husband. One does not wear a powersuit to a private, informal occasion.

    Michelle has an unfailing sense of classy style and does not need de la Renta's snobbish (and expensive) advice

    April 3, 2009 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  4. Steve

    "should broaden her wardrobe and seize an opportunity to spur the flailing fashion industry."

    Come on, really?

    April 3, 2009 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  5. Moe NY

    OMG....Oscar de la Renta....get over it. Who is listening to your corporate whine? Certainly not the jobless/homeless /people who have lost their homes, etc. in this country....the majority of the American people cannot afford your clothes anyway, even without a recession. It is about time you over priced designers where put in your place. Our First Lady is doing just fine without your outrageous price tags. Our First Lady always looks great....whether it is J. Crew or Kmart...she carries it off very well.

    April 3, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  6. Chris

    I think Michelle Obama can go anywhere she darn well pleases and wear anything she wants and it doesn't have to be OK with Oscar de Jealous or anyone else. Sour grapes, perhaps?

    April 3, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  7. Holly - MO

    Ole he's a little jealous. She didn't spend thousand's on one of his sweaters. I think she look great and the choice was very appropriate. Wake UP it's the 21st century! She is the new face of our young women.

    April 3, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  8. Missy

    Oscar de la Renta is right on the money. Michelle Obama is not a fashion icon and she lacks a sense of syle.

    April 3, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  9. LaWanda

    Sorry, but I seriously doubt that most American women view a $300 cardigan as "mid-market".

    April 3, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. rtl

    Sounds like De La Renta is just jealous he's not Mrs. Obama's choice. She'd rather wear J. Crew than the weird crap a lot of the other "designers" design!

    April 3, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  11. Honest Abe

    I hope the fashion industry FAILS! There will be NO bailout for overpriced clothing! How do you justify $600 pants and $1000 shirts?

    April 3, 2009 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. Rae

    Tell Oscar Baby to mind his own business. She looks fabulous. and she can wear whatever she wants to. He's just jealous that she's not sporting his ridiculous, ostentatious, and ugly fashions. Leave her alone Oscar. Get a life!!

    April 3, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  13. Molly Weasley

    It would be nice to read a substantive article about the first lady that DIDN'T mention what she was wearing.

    April 3, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  14. rosemary ward

    I agree that the sweater was a faux pas....what was
    she thinking??? It looked like she was going to drive the carpool. Who are her fashion advisers??
    Fire them. She was meeting with the QUEEN.

    Otherwise, I like her modern, graceful look and I really really love her.

    April 3, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  15. Jun

    She represents the majority of Americans not the elite few like yourself, Mr de la Renta.

    April 3, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  16. paule

    leave that woman alone she looked great in whatever she wears and that is all that matters.I am sure there is no signed protocol about what to wear at the palace,she was properly attired and that is all that matters,too much worked up about fashion,lets hope the g20 will help this world economic issues.

    April 3, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  17. Isabella

    WIth all due respect to the great Mr. De la Renta, Mrs O can where what the heck she wants to Buckingham. She also is not required to curtsy to the Queen. I applaud her keep wearing what you want, MRS O. You always look great.

    April 3, 2009 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  18. Rose

    Guess what Oscar De la Renta, I think Michelle Obama should wear what she feels comfortable wearing. She wears the clothes beautiful and a lot of a fashion choices are affordable. I know a lot of people cannot afford your clothes. Get over it.

    April 3, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  19. jenny

    I think that is RIDICULOUS to say with the economy the way it is that she should be in a a big name designer outfit. Helloooo?? She doesnt owe the Fashion industry a darn thing. The American People are who she needs to represent, and these days, Jcrew is barely even affordable to 40% of the country if not more.
    She looks great, the Queen loved her, and she did a great job representing the REAL American woman.

    April 3, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  20. Michael

    It is extremely fortunate that First Lady Michelle Obama is as personavle and bright as she is. That way, when everyone is done analyzing what outfit she wore or a given day, they'll have to sit and listen when she opens her mouth to speak! She looks great!

    April 3, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  21. Pat

    Can you say sore loser? Mr. de La Renta, sorry Mrs. Obama understands that you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a wardrobe to look fabulous. The days of thinking you simply must spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothes are gone. Mr. de La Renta needs to follow her lead. I would be willing to bet my tiny paycheck that his sales would increase if he did.

    April 3, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  22. Hmmmm....

    I am hoping that our President and his wife do not so US American that they think they can ignore the customs and protocol of the countries they visit. I would like them to respect those who host them and one can do that by caring enough to properly prepare.

    April 3, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  23. independent Jim

    Michelle Obama dresses like a businesswoman, which is the "American look.". She seems to be a great role model. Oscar de la Renta needs to realize that his opinion doesn't matter to most of us.

    April 3, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  24. Debi

    Personally it is nice to see the First Lady in affordable clothing. Perhaps the fashion industry should take the hint. Blue collar workers are the ones paying taxes and we certainly cannot afford Oscar de LaRenta fashions on our salaries. J. Crew is more affordable, tho most of us can't even afford a $300.00 sweater. The so called faux pax could have simply been that Mrs. Obama was not use to the cool damp weather of England and a sweater made her feel more comfortable. Not everyone is as hot natured as the models flaunting Oscar de LaRenta Fashions!

    April 3, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  25. BEE

    I think the article speaks for itself, Mr. DE LA RENTA. The average citizen does not have the money nor the occasion to wear runway fashion. However, give them J. Crew and they will come..... to stimulate the economy just hours after Michelle Obabma sports it!

    April 3, 2009 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
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