Monday, December 19, 2011

Hatbox Theatre Presents a Michelle Obama Video

Michelle Obama waltzed on to the fashion scene in 2009 with a fascinating style, especially after the schoolmarmish outfits worn by the matronly Laura Bush. Michelle was wearing clothes by designers whose work had never seen the light of day in the White House. People like Jason Wu, Thakoon Panichgul and Azzedine Alaia. To these high-style names, she added a dollop of a J. Crew or a Target here or there. Tongues wagged; she was showing too much arm, too much cleavage, too much leg, too much hip or too much derriere. Was there no part of this woman's anatomy safe from scrutiny?

In April of 2009, Michelle accompanied Barack to the G-20 Economic Summit in London. She was on an international fashion stage, and the European press was gaga. When I saw an article in the French magazine, L'Express, "Les dix commandements du style de Michelle Obama," I got the idea to do a puppet show about Michelle's clothes.

I play a character named Desirée Diamante, the First Lady's Social Secretary. The Desirée character is based on Desirée Rogers, the real Social Secretary at the time. Ms. Rogers was not well-schooled in public relations. She famously said she was promoting the "brand" of Barack Obama, had a penchant for expensive dresses and jewelry and did a less than a stellar job organizing the state dinner crashed by that reality-show couple. 

Michelle in London in April, 2009 wearing J. Crew

I believe that Michelle was taking her fashion cues from Ikram Goldman, owner of the eponymously named Chicago store. I stopped in there once. The clothes were stratospherically priced and screamed "edgy." Not my style.

Michelle wore a gown by Thakoon Panichgul at the Inauguration Ball.

Mrs. O wore an ensemble by Isabel Toledo on Inauguration Day. The color choice, a mustardy yellow, was unconventional for a red, white and blue day. Yet the outfit, covered in spangles, was festive, pretty and dressy. The green pumps and gloves -- well that was a brave choice!

I want you to know that I admire Michelle Obama and I think her work with service members and families and her "Let's Move" initiative are terrific. But I could not resist poking fun at the world's enthrallment with Mrs. O's clothes. After all, this is a woman with degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law School, and people were obsessing over her clothes? A bit of a reality check here folks.

Writing in the March 16, 2009 New Yorker, Robin Givhan opined:
"Because of Michelle Obama's affection for independent designers with their own eccentric vision, and her willingness to go sleeveless in the most tradition-bound environments, her legacy may well be to show women how to move gracefully from the insecurities of youth into a sophisticated and stylish maturity. She will have proved, once and for all, that a woman can grow older without looking old."
Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

However you look at Mrs. O, sartorially speaking, she looks like one chic lady walking with her man.
What kind of bag is she carrying? I want one.

Official White House photo by Chuck Kennedy

And this is one beautiful family. Joyeux Fêtes mes amis!

À bientôt!

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