Michelle Obama, fashionista

The media compares the presidential candidate's wife to Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn ... and Barbara Bush?


Rachel Shukert
June 11, 2008 7:29PM (UTC)

The new first lady presumptive (fingers crossed!) is all over the place this week, as our country prepares to usher in a new era of feminine archetypes to superficially dissect in the media.

The New York Times Fashion and Style section weighed in recently on the clothes that make the woman, favorably comparing the bouffant pageboy and sleek, '60s-inspired shifts to that fabled paragon of all that is good and stylish and thin about America, Jackie Kennedy herself. But Jackie Kennedy with soul, explains Vogue guru André Leon Talley, in the delightfully frank and reductive language of high fashion: "A black Camelot moment is the right moment for the Obamas. And so the faux pearls, the A-line dresses, and the Jackie Kennedy flip are obviously all part of how her image strategy has evolved."

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Agreed. Oddly, the Times also compares Obama in the very first paragraph to ... Barbara Bush. Barbara Bush? Really? What's the logic on that, Paper of Record? Well, the pearls, you see. Barbara Bush wears pearls, Michelle Obama wears pearls, therefore, Bush = Obama. But Jackie Kennedy wore big fake pearls -- André Leon Talley just said so!

The New York Post gets in on the fashion act as well, with an expert once again comparing Mrs. Obama not only to Mrs. Kennedy but -- holy of holies! -- to Audrey Hepburn, on account of ... yes, you guessed it, those selfsame pearls. And the Post is supposed to be right-wing! It also dutifully brings up some of Cindy McCain's fashion choices, likening her to GOP style icon Nancy Reagan (bringing out the big guns here) and, somewhat less flatteringly, "Dynasty's" Krystle Carrington. (To which I can only respond: I knew Krystle Carrington, Krystle Carrington was a friend of mine, and you, Mrs. McCain, are no Krystle Carrington.)

Michelle Obama got some support from unexpected quarters this week as well, when none other than Laura Bush defended her over the infamous "first time I've been proud of my country" remarks. "I think she meant 'more proud,'" explained the first lady. "That's one of the difficult parts about running for president, that is, everything you say is looked at and in some cases misconstrued." Holler, Mrs. Bush!

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As for me, I haven't been this excited since I was first introduced to the glorious tornado that is Teresa Heinz Kerry and her fabulous shawls. I just hope this story has a happier ending.


Rachel Shukert

Rachel Shukert is the author of Everything is Going To Be Great and Have You No Shame. Her YA series Starstruck is forthcoming from Random House in the spring of 2013. She lives in New York City.

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