Sophie Theallet, a fashion designer who has dressed the current First Lady, Michelle Obama, tweeted an open letter to other fashion designers calling on them all to refuse to dress incoming First Lady Melania Trump. Whether the letter is in earnest or a brand publicity stunt now that the First Lady she has dressed is moving off of the main stage, it is not likely to have the effect Ms Theallet expects it to have.
For one, as we learned earlier this month, the public shaming technique the Left has relied upon for decades to control public behaviour is not as powerful as assumed. It relied upon an appearance of certainty about what people believe that shattered sometime on the night of November 8th. She might intend to shame all those others she thinks are not her customers only to find that she shamed a good portion of them. (Lands’ End can tell her how badly that can go in the clothing business. And the Broadway cast of Hamilton can learn along with her.)
In this specific case, the Trump women probably do not want and certainly do not need to be patronised by the fashion consultants who dressed Michelle Obama.
Michelle Obama’s daily fashion sense was one of those things the media reported without critical examination because they wanted it to be true. They wanted another Camelot with fashionable Jackie Kennedy, so they simply declared one even though Michelle Obama’s time as First Lady was riddled with fashion misses from blithely wearing couture to soup kitchens or impoverished countries to donning fabrics better suited to upholstery. (Worse, she attempted some of this while visiting London and meeting with the Duchess of Cambridge and Samantha Cameron, each of whom was far better at the fashionable politics game.) With some notable evening dress exceptions, her reputed fashion sense was higher than her actual fashion sense.
Based upon Melania’s fashion trolling record alone, she does not seem to require advice from others about what to wear. Even if she did, all she would need to do is find some new designers looking for a break. This should not prove difficult as her step-daughter is already in the business and there is pent up and growing demand for “real” fashion.
Just this summer a flurry of fashion articles discussing sizing manipulations and age assumptions prompted conversations about what is “real.” Is curvy real or merely a reaction to photoshopping models to be super skinny? Is using trans women as models thereby setting a structural standard that is biologically masculine? What is feminine? What is wearable?
Curvy or skinny, young or old, right now, everyday women don’t see fashion as wearable, affordable, or feminine in any sort of practical way. They are coming to the realisation that fashion industry is engaging in fashion gaslighting to preserve their preferred standards.
It is into this fashion moment that a current designer calls for a boycott dressing the populist President-elect’s wife.
The Trump women will find some aspiring designers, help them develop affordable, wearable, and beautiful clothing, and then give them a PR boost by wearing it. This could be the fashion revolution that American women have been waiting for and the best thing that has happened to the American fashion industry in decades.