Bridget Foley's Diary: Fashion Pound Puppies. Thank you for this, WWD and Bridget. Finally a mildly unbiased look at the fashion industry. Foley, who regularly pens op-eds for WWD, has taken on Michelle Obama and her Inauguration dress routine in a rather bold new piece. While there is no denying that Michelle Obama's impact on young brands has been truly amazing, it seems things could be a bit different. For instance, Foley, who paints M. Obama as quite the diva, writes that she accepted somewhere between 15 and 30 dress submissions for her Inauguration dress this year. Submissions included "pieces created especially for Obama and clothes from current collections." None of these were paid for by Obama. Foley briefly makes a relevant comparison: one to Kate Middleton and her much talked about wedding dress. What Foley fails to mention is that the Duchess, who married in 2011, reportedly paid for her three dresses for the wedding. Further, according to palace policy, Middleton does not accept gifts of clothing. Obama told Jay Leno in 2008 that she buys all of the clothing she wears (in an attempt to slam Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe allowance), but is that really true anymore?
It appears that the answer is no. For the 2009 Inauguration, Jason Wu and Isabel Toledo were not paid for the garments they provided for the First Lady, and based on Foley's article, even custom submissions are not paid for. I get it. The Inauguration is a special case. However, what about Obama's day-to-day business life? Do we really think she is buying $3,000 Prabal Gurung frocks or wearing dresses loaned to her? While I do not take issue with her borrowing garments, especially when they grant exposure to US-based emerging designers, why is there such a lack of transparency?
Foley's take away: "From the human standpoint, clothes should not have been solicited from so many people. That’s right, not brands, firms or houses, but people. Sketches, fine. Conversations, fine. But to have had so many designers put effort, resources and emotion into making clothes is just not nice." Regardless of what stance you take, I think a fair solution is Obama (and future First Ladies) should pay for the materials and labor for these submission since many of the designers are, in fact, small businesses and not big houses with huge budgets like Gucci or Louis Vuitton. Thoughts?