Well that didn’t take long. The PA reverb had barely subsided after America’s next First Family stepped off the podium at Grant Park following Barack Obama’s victory speech, when the critics started. Not the political critics – the fashion police. Yes, an African American had just made history by being elected the 44th President of the United States, but some seemed more focussed on a bigger issue: slagging off the future First Lady’s dress. Which may have been designed by a Kennedy fave (now confirmed).
In attempting to ID the dress a quick check of the websites of some of Michelle Obama’s designer favourites, notably the Chicago-based Maria Pinto, bore no fruit.
The Red Carpet Fashion Awards blog has however just thrown Narciso Rodriguez’s name into the ring and frockwriter thinks they could be onto something.
Teamed with a black cardigan or knit bolero, Obama’s two-tone sleeveless sheath with criss-cross black satin cummerbund under the bust bears a remarkable resemblance to this dress from Rodriguez’s Spring/Summer 2009 collection:
narciso rodriguez SS09/style.com
But while the New York-based Cuban designer has dressed Obama on at least one previous occasion – and of course originally shot to prominence in 1996 after designing the wedding dress for Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy – his design does not appear to have gone down well in the blogosphere.
Here's a comment left by “Skye” on Mrs O, one of several blogs dedicated to tracking the style of Michelle Obama:
“Tonight’s dress was just short of hideous”.
And “Jon” on the same blog:
“Did you see the black and red frock disaster Michelle wore on election night at Grant Park? Barf! Fashion violation #1 and counting! From where, pray tell, did she drag out that fashion dreg? No style queen will she be in the White House if that was ever an indicator. Where are the fashion police when you need them?”
Ditto "Berdine Logar":
“What a disaster that dress was tonight at Grant Park. Someone’s got to help her with her wardrobe!”
And the criticism has not been isolated to niche blogs.
Noted one Gawker editor on the extremely high profile New York media blog:
“It was moving to see Michelle Obama on stage with her husband, and she's not a woman we would ever cross. She's also elegant! But what was the story with that dress? A lucky garment of some sort, perhaps?”
And Gawker commenter “MadamLash”:
“... the dress was a poor choice for TV against a night time background. Reminded me a little of one of those hypercolour T-shirts with odd splotches that show up in unfortunate bodily hot spots.”
Even political blog But As For Me! hopped onto the slagoff bandwagon, dedicating its 'Joke of the Week' to Obama’s dress choice:
“What Does A Hippie and Ex-SDS Wear To A Rally?
Answer: The Dress Michelle Obama Wore On Stage In Grant Park!”
It’s great to see people with their priorities so quickly sorted after yesterday's inspiring scenes.
(UPDATE: 1.39am. In the event that anyone checks the Mrs O blog and spots the exact same images which appear on this frockwriter post, as well as an earlier dateline to this post, please be advised that both at the time of filing, and for some time afterwards, there was no other blog post on the Narciso Rodriguez dress listed on Google Blogs between the Red Carpet Fashion Awards post - which ID'd the dress - and this post. I not only linked to the latter blog, I also spent some time finding an image of the victory podium on Daylife.com (a site which, up until this point, I have always assumed was a division of Getty - hence the original Getty credit). Of the plethora of images from last night, it seems to be a remarkable coincidence that Mrs O chose exactly the same image. Posting times can of course be manipulated. Mine is not.)