While the response to Michelle Obama's Inauguration Day ensembles has been mostly positive, some are upset: The cofounder of the Black Artists Association, for one. Because Ms. Obama didn't wear anything by an African-American.
"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?”
Here's the thing: Of course there's pressure on Michelle Obama to be the ultimate, best, most amazing black woman ever, and lift up every black person in the world with her awesomeness, buying power and fashion sense. But. She is a Harvard-educated lawyer from Chicago who likes J. Crew. Can't she wear just whatever she wants? Yes, it's important to support black designers, who don't generally get a fair share of the market — in fact, usually there's only one black designer who shows at the tents during New York Fashion Week: Tracy Reese — but surely Ms. Obama has priorities. And perhaps seeking out black designers isn't one of them. And let's be honest: Is it even fair to create a world in which successful black people "had better" wear clothes by black people, listen to music by black people and hire black people, or else?
In any case, Michelle Obama has been First Lady for two days. Give her time, and surely she will wear something by an African-American designer. Perhaps in the next issue of Vogue, which could hit stands — with Ms. Obama on the cover — in a few weeks?
As for BAA's Eele, who was once a runway model (walking for YSL, Armani and Bill Blass), she was asked by WWD if maybe Ms. Obama is looking at the world colorlessly? Responded Eele: "It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment."