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. Ilene

    Why should Michelle change her style and pretend to be something she is not. We've had enough of that already, and I believe Hollywood already wears plenty of fashion that people copy. The car industry is flailing too. Does that mean she should go out and buy one of every type of car to help.

    She's the classiest Lady and best role model for women in a long time.

    April 3, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. Sally

    Sour grapes from Mr. De la Renta! If the fashion industry is currently struggling, it's because designers like Mr. De la Renta have not come to terms with the economic realities facing Americans and adapted their clothing lines accordingly.

    I find even $300 for a J. Crew sweater to be a lot. So I would be apalled if – at this time when the President has called for all Americans to make sacrifices – Mrs. Obama were to show up anywhere in a $30,000 Oscar de la Renta outfit.

    April 3, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  3. Mike from Shelburne VT

    Michelle Obama's Fashion has been a bigger deal than the entire G-20 so far...getting a little sick of it. Maybe talk about what she's doing for once, not whats she's wearing? Is it really that big a deal that an entire article has to talk about her wearing a sweater? The Obama's are pretty much celebrity's, and its good that they're being much more open than the Bush years, but this is getting ridiculous that so much of the medias attention has to be focused her outfit.

    April 3, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. A Virginian

    I feel that Michelle looks great, and as for Mr De la Renta don't you think your dressing enough stars.

    April 3, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  5. Bay Area Urban Professional

    What planet does Oscar de la Renta live on, anyway? I am outraged by his comments about Mrs. Obama's wardrobe. Americans are working hard and struggling everywhere. Mr. de la Renta's comments are very inappropriate and reflect poorly on the fashion industry. Many people already believe that this particular industry is extremely elitist and shallow, and he is not helping. No disrespect to the Queen of England, but she is mortal just like the rest of us, no better, no worse. The amount of money one spends on clothes, make-up, and accessories does not reflect his/her value to society. The Obamas are emphasizing values such as the importance of family, education, and equality. Success should result from working hard and having a positive attitude, with the belief that anything is possible. Mr. de la Renta obviously prefers to live in the past, and be subject to arcane beliefs that are quickly fading. Wake up!!

    April 3, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  6. susie

    I wish I could afford a $300 cardigan, but with the extra $13.00, stimulus a week, in my paycheck, it will take me a lifetime to buy it!

    April 3, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. a f r

    How ridiculous! Who is he to dictate Michelle Obama's style? She does exactly as she pleases, she is making good decisions, she looks wonderful, and most importantly . . . she is a fantastic role model. I say more power to her style and her bare arms, but WHY does anyone care anyway? Focus on the fact that she is a devoted and dedicated mother, that she has warmth enough to inspire a spontaneous gesture from Queen Elizabeth, that she shows herself genuine and heartfelt when speaking to young girls, that she has arranged for an organic garden on the White House lawn, that she is completely comfortable in her own skin and her own person. With all of this, who cares–WHO?–about what Oscar de la Renta would prefer she wear!

    April 3, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  8. lt

    I can't believe we actually think this is, in any way, shape, or form, important! We are so unbelieveably shallow!!!

    April 3, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. Sheri

    Now is precisely the time for the First Lady to continue with her fashion sense! The general public can NOT afford fashions with unbelievably high price tags. So, in a time of reordering priorities, Mrs. Obama's advisers are on point! While, de La Renta is a brilliant designer, I think he's way off mark, here.

    April 3, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  10. Dan

    Give her a break. What do you want her to do? Show up in a $5000.00 outfit with unemployment at 8.5%.

    April 3, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  11. Susan

    She looked great! Back off Oscar.

    April 3, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Philip Simms

    What a dope. The woman is wearing affordable clothing in an effort to stay in touch with the majority. The the tiny minority that can waste large amounts of money on frivolous fashion items. The fashion industry needs to change to match people's needs, not try to encourage people to wear very expensive clothes. Form follows function, and when many people are struggling no one wants to see someone flaunt their form when they can't afford function.

    Wake up before writing an article like this, or you'll be shopping at the Salvation Army soon.

    April 3, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  13. Andrea

    Who cares what kind of top or what brand the first lady is wearing??? It's not like she showed up in something revealing or offensive, like the tacky dresses some of these Hollywood celebrities wear nowadays. And as long as the Queen wasn't offended, then Michelle Obama should be able to wear whatever brand or style she wants.

    April 3, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  14. Susan Baldwin

    Thumbs up all the way to Mrs. Obama, she looked wonderful. I'm so sick and tired of the "fashion police" serving their own interests.

    April 3, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  15. global44

    I think that Osar should chill a bit. I think the First Lady looked
    fabulous in her esemble. You can wear a beautiful sweater to meet the Queen of England. For dinner or formal event, I am sure the First Lady would wear something what... more conservative. She is young and vibrant and I am so proud. Stuff it Oscar and make something that I would buy even on my six figure salary.

    April 3, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. hr_demon

    Hey Oscar, if the Queen liked her enough to put her arm on her shoulder (which apparently is unheard of) then I would guess that Michelle made a good fashion choice.

    When was the last time the Queen showed affection to someone wearing one of your outfits?

    April 3, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  17. jdquest

    Mrs Obama's choices show examples of the best and most honest ways to spread the wealth around. Why should someone get an outrageous amount of money for anything when the raw materials are so affordable. There are thousands of people out there who can and do design beautiful and affordable clothing. She is setting a great example to other stylish women.

    April 3, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. Cary

    Oscar is now outdated and out of style.

    April 3, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. Simmy

    The Queen didn't seem offended. She (First Lady) was wonderful....It's over.

    April 3, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  20. k johnson

    Cashmere would have been ok if The Queen had invited her to Balmoral.

    April 3, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  21. Obama '09

    I'd like to know what Oscar has done to make this world a better place.....*crickets*..............

    April 3, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  22. MJ

    Didn't seem to offend the Queen, she looked beautiful. Get over it. I am sure if the "Palace" wanted her not to wear a sweater they would have sent her a note.

    April 3, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  23. MountainGirl

    Michele Obama would look beautiful in a hemp sack. I think her choice of what to wear to meet the Queen was very fashionable. I think Oscar da Renta needs to keep his opinions to himself. Times are changing and he needs to change too. I think the Queen enjoyed meeting the Obama's.

    April 3, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  24. Rodboy

    Oscar, is hurting what a shame. It seems that only SNOBS can be presidential in his opinion. I am sure Abe Lincoln had an idiot in the background as well.

    April 3, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. kate

    Well, it is not like $300 is a cheap sweater! For most of us, that would be a major luxury. Please don't refer to the First Lady's wardrobe as affordable. It may be less expensive than that of others in her position, but $300 sweaters are not affordable for the majority of Americans

    April 3, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
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