If you read my column, you know I like to Monday-morning quarterback as much as anybody. The red carpet, major award shows, whatever. But I can only take it so far. Because it's fashion. It's not that serious.
That's why I'm so irked about a complaint by the Black Artists Association regarding First Lady Michelle Obama's wardrobe during the inauguration. The group's cofounder, Amnau Eele, is upset that Obama didn't pick any black designers. Eele told Women's Wear Daily, “It’s fine and good if you want to be all ‘Kumbaya’ and ‘We Are the World’ by representing all different countries. But if you are going to have Isabel Toledo do the inauguration dress, and Jason Wu do the evening gown, why not have Kevan Hall, B Michael, Stephen Burrows or any of the other black designers do something too?”
“It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes," she was quoted as saying. "Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment.”
Our moment? Er, last I checked the inauguration was America's moment. It was for everyone - and that means people of all ethnic backgrounds. For the record, Wu is Asian American and Toledo, Cuban American. I think it's wonderful for these two unknowns to get a boost like the one Obama gave them although I'm not sure that's why she did it. Maybe she just liked the lemongrass-colored ensemble and that floaty evening gown she wore. Regardless as to what you think of her choices, you have to admit that she was radiant in them.
As the years go on, the first lady will wear clothes by many other designers, too - newcomers and otherwise. In the meantime, some folks seriously need to lighten up. The Obamas just moved into the White House. Michelle Obama may not even be finished getting her closet organized.
UPDATE: Since this story hit, Amnau Eele of the Black Artists Association has gotten death threats from some upset about her controversial statements. And designer B. Michael issued a press release saying, the group does not represent his point of view. “I understand their sensitivity and respect their right to express it,” he said, according to Women's Wear Daily. “I personally believe it is an unfair expectation to place on the First Lady. Fashion is subjective and a matter of personal choice."
“As an American designer, I am excited that Mrs. Obama, in her role as the First Lady, will heighten the awareness of American style, which resonates into business and jobs in the fashion industry," Michael said. "I applaud Mrs. Obama for her style and her choices. Most of all for wearing what really matters: dignity and grace.”