Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

What shall I wear to the party?

Lacroix sketch

Not me, my invitation to one of the many inaugural balls has unaccountably been lost in the post, though I do know someone who is going. Her husband appointed Obama to the position of president of the Harvard Law Review.

But what about the soon to be First Lady? Not an Oscar dress will have more attention this one, heavy with meanings, as Lisa Armstrong points out in the Times:

Bottom line, she's a good-looking woman who knows her way around upmarket labels (in the past year she has worn, among more predictable names, Thakoon and Rodarte, both up and coming darlings of New York Fashion Week). Fashionable, in a user-friendly way, she even made it onto Vanity Fair's 2008 Best Dressed list. She can wear just about any colour and she's the first First Lady since Jackie Kennedy who can anoint trends and sell out a dress (viz, the black and white sundress she wore to guest host ABC's The View). As Peter Som, another New York talent, says: “What she wears has a huge impact on fashion. From day one she has shown her own modern style that many women can identify with or aspire to.” For an industry reeling from the recession, what's not to like?

They'll find something. Because ultimately these outfits are sartorial landmines waiting to happen. They must transcend class, colour and financial barriers. Ideally they should impress, endear and unite. Really it's like asking a blanket to bring world peace, and be fascinating at the same time. On a slightly more attainable level, Letitia Baldridge, a former social secretary to Jackie Kennedy recently noted of Mrs Obama: “It would be wrong for today's First Lady to go around like a princess all the time. But I think it would be very wrong when she's on an official job to be dressed too casually. She's always got to be a bit above.” In short, if her husband is President, “she always has to watch everything ”. And you thought it was just a dress