Fashion PR score: Jill Biden 1, Michelle Obama 0

Earlier this week, Washington partied as Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as President of the United States. His PR team put on three top-notch shows – one in the White House for the official swearing-in ceremony, an outdoor shindig for the Obamas’ neighbours, and a star-studded Inauguration Ball for the privileged few.

Obama dress

Though all eyes were supposed to be on the President, it was – as always – a place for his wife Michelle to shine. And that she did … in Canadian red! Looking as striking as always, the First Lady donned a chiffon halter gown designed by 30-year-old Jason Wu. It was the second Inauguration Ball where Mrs. Obama showcased the young Canadian designer’s talents, having worn his white one-shoulder gown at Ball #1 four years ago. 

All of which has me wondering: where was the First Lady’s PR team? While the dresses were lovely, Mr. Wu is a Canuck! Sure, he has a boutique in Manhattan and likely spends oodles of time there, but that doesn’t make him an American. I mean, shouldn’t the First Lady be more patriotic by promoting young U.S. designers instead? At Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony, her daughters Malia and Sasha were dolled up in Kate Spade and J. Crew, the latter being one of Mom’s Go-To clothiers when she’s out and about during the day. Both are Made in America (or, at least, conceptualized there). 

Luckily, Jill Biden got it right, decking out in a grey coat and dress by American designer Lela Rose for the outdoor party and then a silky blue gown with a draped front and back by New York-born-and-bred Vera Wang for the evening affair.

Sure, we call actors like Ryan Gosling and Mike Myers as our own even though they live  and collect paycheques in the U.S. But they’re Canadian through and through, just like Mr. Wu. 

America, you may be powerful, but you can’t claim someone as your own just to be the belle of the ball. Next time, Michelle, let your handlers do the choosing!

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