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US designers flay Michelle Obama’s fashion showdown in Europe

world Updated: Apr 05, 2009 12:57 IST

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The much drumrolled US First Lady Michelle Obama’s fashion showdown on her first overseas visit to Europe has been criticised by top American designers, with some complaining she chose to completely ignore their outfits.

Obama has mixed her sartorial sources during her first foreign foray -- switching between young foreign-born American designers such as Jason Wu and Isobel Toledo, her high street look from J Crew and new foreign names such as Azzedine Alaia (Tunisian-French) and Watanabe (Japanese). But missing are the big names who have dominated the US industry for years.

The result -- some of them are unhappy. And, leading the criticism was Oscar de la Renta, a favourite of several former first ladies.

“American fashion right now is struggling. I think I understand what (Obama and her advisers) are doing but I don’t think that is the right message at this particular point. I do not object to the fact that Mrs Obama is wearing J Crew to whatever because the diversity of America is what makes this country great.

“But there are a lot of great designers out there. I think it’s wrong to go in one direction only. You don’t... go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater,” Renta told the ‘Women’s Wear Daily´, known as the “fashion industry bible”.