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. Dee

    I think the First Lady's sense of style is great. I just wish I could afford J Crew. There are still only a small portion of women who 1) can afford a $300 sweater and 2) would jump so quick to spend that kind of money on a sweater. I'm sure Michele Obama would be the first to encourage those women to put their money to better use.

    April 3, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. Ed

    Coming from a man who designs clothes for women who can only fit sizes 0 to 2, I'd say he can take his advice and shove it.

    April 3, 2009 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  3. Karen

    Mrs. Obama needs to wear clothing that make her hips and rear end look smaller, not larger as the styles she now wears do.

    April 3, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  4. Jellybelly

    She looks OK to me. Maybe its a message to the people like "there are more important things", this'll do fine.

    April 3, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  5. Martin Arguello

    Michelle Obama, is the wife to the most powerful man in the world. She is also the first black first lady. Furthermore, she's an attorney and a mother of two. The world is looking to her for guidance. Appearances are everything right now. If she wants to pretend that's she humble, well great. However, Mrs. Obama out of anyone should know that there are dress codes for every occasion. She wouldn't show up to court in a mini skirt. Why would she show up in a sweater to the G-20. She needs to start setting an example and needs to start presenting herself as a strong leader, She needs to stop wearing these green outfits and start wearing a business suit, if she wants to be treated with respect. As a public figure and a role model to our world's youth, it is her obligation and responsiblity to represent herself in a proper fashion.

    April 3, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  6. john

    I thought the goal was to look good. And she looks gorgeous. This guy sells overpriced pieces of fabric and wants to raise the "value" or his creations. What a sore loser.

    April 3, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  7. Diana K

    With the economical direction of our country current, I think it is outstanding that Mrs. Obama is not tripping down the high end fashion lane like Mr. de la Renta suggests.

    April 3, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  8. Kelsey

    I think its great that she's wearing more affordable pieces. Oscar de la Renta isn't exactly known for being cheap. She's showing that she has good style but doesn't have to spend thousands of dollars on a dress. I love her fashion and I definitely think she is bringing a new look to what we've previously thought of the First Lady.

    April 3, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  9. mary and denise

    we applaud michelle obama's fashion discretion in these struggling economic times. it is a breath of fresh air to see the first lady of the united states donning clothes that are more financially practical and responsible than have many of her first lady predecessors. wearing oscar de la renta and other high-end frocks would be a slap in the face to the masses of americans who could not afford such clothes even in the heartiest of financial climates. way to go michelle!

    April 3, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  10. Asha Jones

    Oscar, are you mad because she's not wearing your clothes???

    April 3, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  11. john in minnesota

    I thought slavery was over with...De Le Renta apparently does not think so.To him, everyone must be a fashion slave. What a sad , narrow little world he lives in. Get a life!!!!

    April 3, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  12. Tom

    Oscar's input about the Obamas is not needed. His designs are not needed. The fashion industry is not needed. Let's deal with things that matter.

    April 3, 2009 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  13. curtis schmidt

    To Mr. De La Renta: Grow up

    April 3, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  14. susan

    I may be wrong, but I think most American women can't afford, and won't buy, $300.00 sweaters for everyday wear. Granted, I would spend a lot if I was visiting the Queen too. FYI even J. Crew is out of reach for many.....

    April 3, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  15. Meka

    I would ask Oscar De La Renta, to please show a little Grace!

    April 3, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  16. Christine -TN

    As much as I love Michelle. I'd have to agree, I thought her outfit to meet the queen was a bit too informal.

    April 3, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  17. Paul

    I feel *so* bad that high fashion designers are having trouble selling $4 worth of fabric (stitched together overseas for pennies in labor costs) for hundreds or thousands of dollars. Yeah, right.

    The house of cards of high fashion has been trembling for years, designing ridiculous clothing at even more ridiculous prices. Pardon me if I feel no sympathy for them now that it's collapsing.

    April 3, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  18. OSCAR IS WRONG!!!!

    I am sorry..I disagree with Oscar De La Renta..Who is a native born of Dominican Republic. As a fashion fasionista I think its importart for the First Lady to stay humble when choosing her clothing, this is sending a signal that she is aware of the financial situation worldwide...On her trip to Europe she looked radient, classy not over done.. She has a gorgeous body and she knows what works for her....She surpass every expectation in Europe..The queen of England was really impress, she even put her hands on the first lady, that was just an amazing gesture. Lets be clear the obamas are very whealthy but they are very well are in tune with the current mood...I also want to add that she wears very expensive clothing too!!! Her outfits range fron 300.00 for a simple sweater to 7,000-10,000. for dresses.The jewelry she wore for this were value at over 120,000 for diamon earings, bracelets ect...

    Michaell keep being humble, kind, classy dont change.

    April 3, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  19. Wendell

    I willing to bet that J.Crew employs more people, and drives more money in to the US economy in one year than Mr. del la Renta has in his whole career. Sour, very sour grapes. I thought you were better than that but I guess I was wrong.

    April 3, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  20. Ms. Dotti 8923

    Oscar! Oscar! Oscar! Of course there are a lot of "great designers" out there. Our greed and "MUST HAVE" of the past few years' prove that.

    We charged up every credit card to its max trying to buy that over-priced "great designer" stuff. We knew we REALLY could not afford those old rags and shoes and purses – but bought them anyway and shamelessly only wore most of them one time. I'm having a garage sale to pay my credit card bills.

    Now - we are all broke. We need First Lady Obama to remind us of what can look good – if we stop trying to keep up with the Kennedys, McClains, Palins and the Bushes – and stay tune within our own financial reality keeping up with the Joneses and the Obamas.

    I'm sure First Lady Obama has a few "great designer" pieces in her wardrobe and has/and will wear them. And you can bet the Queen knows those 'great designers' and would NOT have been impressed. In fact the Queen may not have hugged First Lady Obama if she knew that her frock was TOO expensive to touch.

    Now we – America AND the entire planet – are in a recession. And as she should – First Lady Obama is showing us how to be frugal. If Oscar had read Oprah's conversation with her in her magazine – 'O' – he would have known she is VERY VERY frugal – in fact she is borderline CHEAP – in her own magnificent looking way.

    April 3, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. sean garitson

    Geeez, Mr. De Lorenta if she spent money on expensive clothes you and everyone else would be saying she's being wasteful in this tough economy. She is a great fashionable woman.

    April 3, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  22. Karen,

    De La Renta's feelings are hurt because she didn't chose him as her designer.

    I think the world has more important issues to deal with for heavens sake.

    April 3, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. Fashion in trouble?

    Oscar de la Renta is fuming because Mrs Obama is spurning high end designers. Anyways, too much stress on fashion has made the society become very superficial and very out of touch. Downsize the prices of your creation, encourage your models to eat and be good role models and then the country will think of bailing you out. Geez!

    April 3, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  24. tati

    Michelle is a "fashion disaster" !! Before her trip to Europe she
    should study a lot - all sweaters are for the gardening . Not for the
    real Queen and not for the inauguration of her husband !
    She is repeatedly telling us how smart she is . I'd like to see it !

    April 3, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  25. Barbara

    Tough words for the First Lady? Your joking! Michelle Obama is in the same class as Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana. Sheesh

    April 3, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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