11/6/09 / Filed Under:The Daily FLOTUS with Lynn Sweet
What’s in First Lady Michelle Obama’s closet?
We knew about American designers Maria Pinto, Jason Wu and fashions from J. Crew. Now there’s another name that followers of Mrs. Obama’s clothes will get to know: the Milan fashion house Moschino.
The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan traveled to Italy to report on the Moschino designers, who, besides their clothes, have something else going for them: modesty and discretion. The East Wing is not keen on clothiers sending out press releases bragging that Mrs. Obama or daughters Malia or Sasha are wearing their line. Not to worry about Moschino, writes Givhan.
Givhan reports that Moschino chief Rosella Jardini “didn’t even realize that Michelle Obama was wearing one of her company’s ensembles” because she mixed and matched the jacket from a Moschino suit in what Givhan called “a pleasingly eccentric manner” with belts and accessories.
Other first ladies — Laura Bush, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nancy Reagan — have relied on American designers. Over at Moschino, where dresses start at $895, there is a sensitivity to the made-in-America factor, so bragging about Mrs. Obama wearing clothes from their house is, Givhan said, “almost nonexistent.”
“It’s a bit difficult to handle the situation because you don’t want to push it. That would seem indelicate,” Jardini told Givhan.
Mrs. Obama’s wardrobe has a global reach, declares Givhan, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for her fashion columns. Mrs. Obama “has had the most international wardrobe of any modern first lady, turning her closet into a virtual United Nations and using her aesthetic sensibility as a form of non-verbal diplomacy as well as a reflection of an increasingly inter-connected world.”
But wait! There’s a U.S. link after all. Much of the stuff Mrs. Obama has bought from Moschino was done by a former Chicagoan, designer Bill Shapiro, a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, who has lived in Milan for years.
For those who follow what Mrs. Obama wears on a daily basis — and I think there are some people who have a record of her belts, shoes, pins, accessories, jackets, pants, skirts, dresses and shorts on a spreadsheet — there is no better place to stop than mrs-o.org. Mary Tomer, the site founder, just came out with a book about Mrs. Obama’s wardrobe and style titled “Mrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy.”
I have mrs-o.org to thank for this seamless transition. For her Thursday visit to the Department of Energy — on the day Givhan’s story ran — Mrs. Obama wore a black and white Moschino jacket, according to mrs-o.
Over at the Energy Department, the Moschino-wearing Mrs. Obama demonstrated she knows how to tease a guy as she talked about Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a scientist. When President Obama picked Chu, said the First Lady, “He was extremely excited that he had a real nerd on his team.”
This visit is part of Mrs. Obama’s routine of making the rounds of federal agencies. At Energy, she talked about the need for girls to study science, math, engineering and technology. Getting more women into math and science related areas, and figuring out why so many women avoid these topics (nature? nurture?), has been an issue educators and sociologists have been wrestling with for decades
During this stop, Mrs. Obama helped 10 students from two Maryland middle schools prep for a regional Science Bowl competition by hosting a practice session.
Said Mrs. Obama, “We’re going to hold a mini Science Bowl right here. We’re all set up. I’m like Alex Trebek, and Secretary Chu is like my Vanna White.”