Sure, First Lady Michelle Obama's wardrobe is generating a lot of buzz -- what with the upcoming Vogue cover and all -- but those of us who keep tabs on men's style have been keeping a close eye on the president himself. I dutifully reported that the newly minted No. 44 would be wearing a Hart Schaffner Marx tuxedo to the inaugural balls, and that he buys that label's suits five or 10 at a clip.
Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances
NEW YORK -- Grace Jones, Chanel Iman, Alek Wek, Tyson Beckford and others walked the runway for Arise magazine's African Fashion Collective show on Friday night, featuring clothes by Tiffany Amber, Xuly.Bet, Stoned Cherrie and Momo, including this Obama dress.
Photo: Obama dress from African Fashion Colletive show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson
Looks like Michelle Obama isn't the only one with an eye on fashion.
Barack Obama is shaking things up by challenging the supremacy of the business suit in the one town in America where a suit still equals power. According to several reports, casual Friday style is becoming everyday style in the Obama White House, with the president encouraging staffers to take off their jackets, even in the Oval Office. (Lord knows they have enough work to do; they need to get comfortable and roll up their sleeves, even though that won't do much to help suit sales.)
In an interview with Matt Lauer on "Today," Obama broke with the suit-and-tie uniform again and wore a casual button-down shirt sans tie. It was a Sunday afternoon and Obama was hanging at home before the Super Bowl, but it was yet another indicator of the dawn of a more relaxed Washington wardrobe.
Besides reflecting Obama's easygoing nature, the casual approach to dressing sets him apart visually from the corrupt "suits," the CEOs and Wall Street opportunists that he's trying to bring down to earth.
Do you think Obama's casual style is appropriate for the White House?
-- Booth Moore
Photo: President Obama, sans jacket, meets with National Security Advisor James Jones, center, in the Oval Office last month. Credit: EPA / Pete Souza
Ask and you shall receive. Earlier this week, Aretha Franklin serenaded crowds of supporters at Barack Obama's inauguration. But it was her bejeweled hat that stole the show. Many wondered where they could get such a head-turner to warm their own noggins.
Tiffany Hsu at our sister blog To Live and Buy in L.A. has the answer: Orders are pouring into Luke Song's Detroit-based Mr. Song Millinery, a store the Queen of Soul has patronized for 20 of its 25 years. Though the heather-gray wool hat ain't cheap -- it costs upward of $500 -- Hsu writes "fans are welcome to drop $179 on a similar satin-ribbon version."
-- Whitney Friedlander
Photo: Pat Benic/ European Pressphoto Agency
The Runway to Change inaugural collection is now online with new T-shirts and bags by Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg, House of Dereon and others. I like this Tory Burch tote for $70.
-- Booth Moore
Photo credit: Inaugural Collectibles Online store
I will never forget when I went to the second Clinton inaugural in 1997 how much merch there was on the streets. Despite the frigid weather, you couldn’t help but want to browse the vendors’ pins, T-shirts and light-up antenna-ball headbands. For some unknown reason, a baseball cap in a regal shade of purple became the must-have, sold out from corner to corner. My sister was able to score one, but alas I was not.
You say Oscars. I say Inauguration Day. It would seem that the latter has a decided edge, if the interest to clothe Michelle and Barack Obama are any indication. David Lipke of WWD posed the challenge to designers -- come up with sketches for inauguration outfits and day wear -- and the results are great. (Though we do now know that Obama will be wearing a tuxedo from Hart Schaffner Marx.)
Thom Browne thinks the president-elect should show off his ankles. (Um, never going to happen.) Sean John, a.k.a. P. Diddy, sees Obama as a sleek, suave James Bond in white dinner jacket -- as shown, left. I have to admit that I like the fitted jacket, slim-cut pants and black pocket square. View the entire gallery here, which includes looks by Marc Jacobs, Nautica, Salvatore Ferragamo and many others.
Notice that Brooks Brothers, right, took a John F. Kennedy approach. A morning coat seems a bit antiquated for a president-elect who, more than anything, represents the future. And why did they send a sketch of Cary Grant, I wonder? WWD asked the same question of designers for Michelle Obama, and those sketches are wonderful too. It's nice to see this eagerness to dress politicians. Are Michelle and Barack the new Angelina and Brad? I sure hope so.
-- Monica Corcoran
Photos used with permission of WWD
President-elect Barack Obama's latest pick was unveiled today: He is expected to take the oath of office on Jan. 20 wearing a suit and topcoat from Hart Schaffner Marx. Lisa Wells, a representative of the label's parent company Hartmarx Corp., said additional details of the ensemble would be forthcoming, "but I hear [the coat] is probably going to be black cashmere."
Wells also told us the company received confirmation just Thursday night that Obama would be changing into a custom-made Hart Schaffner Marx tuxedo for the inaugural festivities that follow.
According to Wells, U.S. president No. 44 will make his first formal appearance in a black, 100% wool tuxedo with a one-button, satin notch lapel jacket and single-pleat trousers with a grosgrain accent.
An off-the-rack version of the same tuxedo can be found at Nordstrom or online at the Hart Schaffner Marx website for $895.
It's not a surprise wardrobe choice for the former Illinois senator, who often wore the brand's suits (all union-made in Des Plaines, Ill., not far from Chicago) on the campaign trail, during debates, and most memorably for his acceptance speech last month when, as we reported, he took to the stage in a navy blue cashmere/wool number.
While it's hard to measure the immediate impact of such sartorial choices, remember that President Kennedy's decision to doff his top hat at his 1960 inauguration is almost universally considered the day the hat began to die in the wardrobe of the American male.
Of course, Hartmarx isn't taking any chances; in the lower right-hand corner of its website is a blue box and the words: "Pick your power suit, President-elect Barack Obama found his at Hart Schaffner Marx."
Well played, HSM, well played.
Photo: President-elect Barack Obama is expected to wear a custom-made Hart Schaffner Marx tuxedo similar to the one pictured here, to the assorted inaugural balls on Jan. 20. Photo credit: Hartmarx Corp.
During this morning's announcement of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Barack Obama's pick for secretary of Commerce, a reporter asked the president elect's opinion about the apparently (we caught it all on the radio) clean-shaven Richardson's decision to shave the Al Gorian exile beard he'd been sporting since dropping out of the primary race.
"I don't know what happened," Obama responded. "The western rugged look was really working for him ... I'm deeply disappointed in the loss of the beard."
Good to know our future commander-in-chief is not a pogonophobe (you don't know how long I've waited to use that word ...), but could he actually be, gulp, pro-beard?
Sure, it could have been just one of those throwaway comments a not-yet-president can make with the oath of office more than a month away, but coupled with his attorney general pick of mustache-sporting Eric Holder, maybe it subconsciously signals some kind of a tonsorial tipping point. Is a full-blown facial hair revival possible? Could the subtext be that beard-backing is actually patriotic? Let's see: In addition to Uncle Sam, who is often depicted with a beard, Abraham Lincoln had one -- the first bearded U.S. president apparently grew his after the election of 1860 and before he was sworn in, which was a little easier since Inauguration Day in 1861 was two months later. (For the record, the last U.S. president to sport facial hair was the mustachioed William Howard Taft).
Perhaps in honor of our beard-loving future president, the men of America should put down our five-bladed Fusion and step away from the Barbasol and go au naturel at the neck from now until Jan. 20.
And just maybe ZZ Top can be persuaded to perform at the inaugural ball.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos from top: A bearded New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson addresses the 2008 Democratic National Convention in August. Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA. Middle: Mustachioed attorney general pick Eric Holder at a Dec.1 news conference. Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images. Bottom: ZZ Top members Billy Gibbons, left, and Dusty Hill at a 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Credit: AP
Goodbye, Gotham, hello, Times New Roman! The latest addition to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team should certainly be a familiar (type)face to Washington insiders. Attentive visitors to the official transition website for the Obama administration might notice that the dominant font is a more staid and traditional Times New Roman (which has been around since the Times of London first used it in 1932), rather than Gotham, the much-lauded breath of fresh air of a font the junior senator from Illinois employed so effectively for much of his campaign.
We first reported on the topic of candidates' fonts and typefaces -- and what that might say about them -- earlier in the election cycle, noting that the whole world seemed to be atwitter over Gotham, a font commissioned just a few years ago by GQ magazine, and inspired by the signage of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. But, in all honesty, we would have missed the shift to Times New Roman if Monotype Imaging (the company that, as the Monotype Corp., designed the original Times New Roman typeface) hadn't brought it to our attention. (We've actually been sidetracked trying to determine if the red, striped necktie Obama wore for his election-night victory speech is actually a Gryffindor House necktie from the "Harry Potter" franchise as one of our readers has suggested -- apparently daughter Malia is a Potter fan.)
"The typefaces used in the body of the Change.gov site are Times New Roman for the text copy and Times New Roman Bold for the running heads," said Monotype's Director of Words & Letters Allan Haley in a follow-up e-mail. " The site masthead, or logo, banners and tab names are set in a style of type that is called 'transitional.' These are designs that are half-way between a warm, humanist 'old style' and an elegant, constructed 'modern' or 'neoclassical.' " Haley said it was difficult to determine exactly which transitional typeface was used because of the relatively small size.
So does this signal the candidate of change has suddenly morphed into just another Washington insider, kicking the brash upstart Gotham to the curb and bear-hugging stodgy, staid old Times New Roman like a lobbyist with back pockets full of Benjamins? We'll leave that to the pundits of printing and followers of fonts to make that call, but we will point out that since 2004, Times New Roman has been the official font of all written U.S. State Department documents, and Obama is no longer just a candidate, he's an elected U.S. government official (note the ".gov" part of the "change.gov" domain name ...).
But that doesn't mean we should be less vigilant; if the invitations to the inaugural ball end up being printed in Comic Sans, it's time to start worrying.
-- Adam Tschorn
Home page of candidate Sen. Barack Obama's website in Gotham typeface (top) and President-elect Barack Obama's transition website (bottom) in Times New Roman.