Last night, Ann Romney wore an Oscar de la Renta dress to deliver her Republican convention speech about how gosh-darn lovable her hubby is (when he's firing people).
This is interesting because Oscar de la Renta is at this point pretty much the only prominent U.S. designer Michelle Obama hasn't worn. The First Lady's status as an icon of good taste has been cemented with her repeated selection of clothes made by, particularly, younger or perhaps lesser-known American designers — people like Thakoon Panichgul, Naeem Khan, Jason Wu, Rachel Roy, Maria Cornejo, Maria Pinto, Isabel Toledo, and de la Renta's own son, Moises. She also wears marquee names like Diane von Furstenberg and Narciso Rodriguez, mid-tier brands like J. Crew, and clothes from mass-market chains like H&M and Target.
And boy, is his perceived snub a sore spot for ol' Oscar. De la Renta, who has dressed every First Lady since Betty Ford, and who was a favorite of Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton during their respective years in the White House, has repeatedly and publicly criticized Michelle Obama's style. In 2009, he said Obama had made the wrong call in wearing a cardigan to meet the Queen, which he considered too informal. In 2010, de la Renta admitted he was "dying of jealousy" when Obama picked a Peter Soronen gown for a state dinner. And last year, de la Renta ignited a discussion about the appropriateness of the red Alexander McQueen dress Obama wore to meet Chinese leader Hu Jintao. (De la Renta and some others, including von Furstenberg, Nanette Lepore, and Women's Wear Daily's Bridget Foley, thought Obama should have gone with an American designer.) That turned into a month-long international news event marked by attacks and defenses, posts and riposts.
Given all that well-publicized history, it's hard to take Romney's selection of an Oscar de la Renta dress as anything other than a neatly tailored fuck-you to Michelle Obama.