Michelle Obama has long been the most fashion-conscious First Lady in history – but could there be more to her style than meets the eye? It’s no surprise that items worn by Mrs O can send sales for the company behind them through the roof (in fact, according to research, she can generate up for $14million for any one company after a single public appearance – phew!), but it’s not just revenue for the brands she supports she’s generating – it’s donations to her husband’s election campaigns too. Coincidence? Err, perhaps not…
Appaz, almost 50 per cent of the brands that Michelle has worn has seen the designers also make a healthy donation to Mr Obama’s 2008 or 2012 campaign, according to Federal Election Commission filings, wrote Katherine Boyle for the Washington Post. What’s more, the donations have tripled from 2008 to 2012 as Michelle’s influence on Planet Fash grew and grew. Well, if you were making $14million on the basis that Mrs O wore one of your garments, you probably would be quite happy to put in a little PR time for Barack, no?
But we too have our own style icon – the lovely Samantha Cameron. When it comes to fashion, the two are neck and neck – and with her solid connections to the fashion industry, working with none other than the British Fashion Council and being an ambassador for Brit designers, can we expect to see the same behaviour from our leading lady?
More importantly, is it all that calculated? Michelle Obama says not. Or, at least, her spokeswoman does. ‘The first lady thinks that women should wear whatever makes them feel good and be comfortable,’ she says. ‘That’s how the first lady chooses her own clothes and based on no other considerations.’
In some instances, she’s right: though Mrs O has worn Jason Wu’s designs, he has refrained from donating to the Obama campaign. And despite having his designs worn by Obama’s competition, Ann Romney, Reed Krakoff has added to the campaign kitty.
Simon Collins, dean of fashion at Parsons the New School for Design, said the ‘support’ for Obama has come along because Michelle is the first to really embrace the fashion world in general – which is an arguable point for SamCam, too. But what do you think? Is it just Michelle’s savvy style that encourages designers to jump on the campaign bandwagon, or something all the more cynical?
And will SamCam follow Michelle’s lead?