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. LindaSF

    Mr. De La Renta speaks only for 1 percent of the population.

    April 3, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    I think it's great Michelle Obama wears J.Crew! I love J.Crew! She looks young and fresh and dresses very well. And, I applaude her for choosing brands that don't break the bank! I hope she doesn't cave into the hype!

    April 3, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. PS

    Michelle Obama is wonderful strong smart woman! she is representing all the women in the right way! I admire her. Plus her dressing sense is classy and appropriate. So I don't really care what she wears as a cardigan over some designer dress. Her role is not to upsell the fashion industry. Her role as a first lady is to partner with the president to get this country's economy and foreign policies straighened out. So stop commenting on her fashion sense- not important!

    April 3, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. Carol Gray

    I am glad to see that we have a First Lady, Michelle Obama, that wear clothes that people with a job can afford. The American people can not find work, put food on the table and have a roof over their head. She shows that her beauty if from within...and knows that the blue collar people do not spend thousands of dollars on the type of clothes that Oscar de la Renta sells. What is wrong with shopping at J Crews and Wal-mart? People do it everyday...try to save money on everything that can keep them in homes....
    Carol Gray

    April 3, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Diane

    Shame shame.

    There is nothing wrong with the First Lady being smart and decent, instead of stupidly over the top, in her clothing choices.

    I, a person who does not choose to afford brands like Oscar de la Renta, relate more to a president's wife who dresses and shops smartly instead of flamboyantly. Leave the expensive fashion to the runways, and leave our First Lady alone. She is sending a great message - that maybe money should be spent more smartly.

    April 3, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. Ray

    Go get him liberals let him have it. When are these people gonna learn you can't voice an opinion like that. No matter how he feels he should not be allowed to say it. He obviously doesn't know the 1st thing about fashion...

    April 3, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  7. Paul Brunet

    "faux pas " are tomorows fashion . Vive Michelle Obama.

    April 3, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  8. inclover

    Mrs. Obama should attempt to save the failing fashion industry? That's one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Her fashion sense is a breath of fresh air...not that it matters.

    April 3, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  9. Russ H

    Oscar, please go to sleep. She will do what she needs to do for the Amercians.

    April 3, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. Bill Shanders

    Oscar de la Renta needs to get over himself! The Putts is just pissed that the first lady is wearing affordable clothing and not pawning his overpriced clothing to the masses. Nothing but greed!

    April 3, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. sherry

    please.....She dresses the way she want's....Who is he to say .....
    She look's grest and does'nt have to wear designer dresses....
    She wear's practical clothing and doesnt have to put on airs.

    April 3, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. AML

    I think she looked classy. No showy, over dressed or under dressed. Mrs. Obama wore a simple classic, black and white.

    April 3, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  13. DM

    I was actually angry at MYSELF for clicking on this story- honestly, who cares what Mrs. Obama wears during a private meeting?? And furthermore- who's to say that a sweater really isn't "ok". Maybe, just maybe, wearing items that are within grasp of lots of people IS the better way to go. I want to know what they discussed, not what they wore.

    April 3, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. A brief comment from me

    A $300 J. Crew cardigan is considered "mid-market?" Sure, I know there are high-end designers out there, but in this economy, in fact, even when times were better, a $300 dollar sweater is just far out of reach for most Americans. Of course Mrs. Obama has to dress the part, but to call any $300 dollar garment "mid-market" is just way off the mark.

    April 3, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. MMD

    I thought he was dead. I quess he needs a shout out, its alive.

    April 3, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. nwg6011

    Is J. Crew a publicly traded company? Because if it is, I'm buying the stock! Thanks, Michelle!

    April 3, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Heather in Atlanta

    I'm glad that Mrs. Obama is buying affordable clothing. I don't want my first lady contributing to wealthy haute coutre culture. They live excessively and should learn some restraint themselves.

    April 3, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  18. Barb

    Why should Michelle change her wardrobe preferance? Unlike previous First Ladies, she did not come from affluence. De la Renta needs to understand the American people like to see someone in the White House they can relate to. Who cares that she wore a sweater to visit the Queen? Did the Queen complain? Give me a break! Much to do about nothing! Personally I'm glad she isn't wearing those stuffy ol' suits we've had to see for soooo long!

    April 3, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  19. PL

    Personal taste is one thing.
    Traditional concept of proper attire for the specific occasion should be consulted and respected. Is there no one who is expert in proper attire for official functions such as meeting the queen on hand for her, or does she consciously choose to ignore advices?
    Does that tell us her personality?
    I hope she learns from this experience. Afterall, she represents us the American people.

    April 3, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  20. RB

    Does it really matter? Seems a bit petty in times like these to talk about fashion faux pas. I don't agree with many of President or First Lady Obama's views, but give her a break on wearing the sweater. Seems about as silly as the "Michelle Obama touched the Queen" articles yesterday. One of the reasons America was created was to break down the barriers between those that lead and those that are subjected to leadership. Oh my gosh...she touched the queen (actually put her arm around her in a warm gesture) and wore a sweater.

    April 3, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  21. Dealt, Lisbon

    Did Oscar de La Renta ever get to Buckingham Palace wearing anything?

    April 3, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Bill

    I think that's crap... I'm ready to challenge the status quo anytime, including weather to wear a sweater to see the queen!


    April 3, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. the man

    she is real she wears what she wants

    April 3, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. A. Darton

    To this Oscar De la Renta fellow take his tough words and stick them where the sun don't shine. Mrs. Obama can wear what she wants to wear, it is not her job to fix the fashion industry. There is always another way for Oscar to have handle this matter, he could have written the First Lady and voice his concerns about the fashion industry, and how much it would help the fashion industry if she were to consider wearing some other designers. Attacking the First Lady and her choice of clothes she wears won't help, as a matter of fact it shows like of class. So to heck with this la Renta dude. I love the First Lady and what she wears.

    April 3, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. proud army navy mom

    the first lady is lovey and is doing fine,. sometimes people need to keep their unsolicited opinions to themselves.

    April 3, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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