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Tuesday
Nov242009

Desiree Dares in Comme des Garcons

Image by Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

While we don't often cover Ms. Desiree Rogers on this blog, we do greatly admire the Social Secretary and her style. For the first state dinner, Ms. Rogers made a particularly daring choice, wearing an avant garde dress by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. The dress, featuring layers of sheer pink and creme fabric and loops of pearls, is from the house's Fall 2009 collection, as seen here. When speaking with Style.com about the collection last March, Ms. Kawakubo described it as "Wonderland," continuing, "where nothing is as it seems."

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Reader Comments (104)

I don't care for this - gown?

I also believe that her choosing a gown of any type that is so close to the color worn by Mrs. O is a lapse of judgment and taste.

This dress was intended to grab attention. Not a good move for tonight.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeeGee

I hope she LOVES this dress, because other than the designer, she might be the only one. I will give her credit for stepping out there and doing something avant garde. I fear that she will be skewered for it nonetheless. However we may feel about it, she looks pleased with her choice and seems to be feeling rather confident. I cannot say it's something I'd be bold enough to wear, it's very structural. I do like the color on her and it suits her personality. It won't take attention away from our Michelle, that would be impossible tonight! Desiree, if nothing else, people will be talking!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:47 PM | Registered CommenterCharlene in Detroit

I'm sorry but this was not the time to be Lady Gaga of the political scene. I get a strong feeling she did this on purpose for attention, and I guess it worked! People are and will be talking about this dress tomorrow I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:49 PM | Registered CommenterAri

lol @ Ari. I was thinking the same thing. All she needs is funny looking mask and some of those 10 inch McQueen pumps and she'll be set.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersarah

Obviously, Ms Rogers wants the spotlight on her tonight. Her gown choice was a POOR one. And the shoes!!!! Well, Ms Rogers, they should have been SLING BACKS and not PUMPS. Call TIM GUNN before attempting to dress yourself for the next STATE affair. The First Lady has the right idea. Her gown was PERFECT IN EVERY WAY!!! Two cheers for the FIRST LADY!!! The FIRST LADY SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE SPOTLIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterphyllis

Really? This, to a state dinner? I mean I really LIKE Desiree but this is taking "Avant-garde" a bit too far... A STATE DINNER!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:40 PM | Registered CommenterRocky

This was awful in every way. What was she thinking?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterEleroy

I hate to be negative, but I have to agree. Not just because it is a risky design, but it does not seem to be a good fit. In terms of trying to out do the First Lady Michelle, impossible! She is breath taking tonight!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered Commentertygzbg

@BeeGee - I agree, she should not have chosen a colour so close to that of FLOTUS....but on the other hand that dress is UGLY!!! Very poor choice.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:07 PM | Registered Commentertrinisamba

This is a dress where your girlfriends are duty bound as fellow women to tell you "Sweetie, that isn't a good look on you." The only human being I can see maybe pulling this dress off is Nicole Kidman.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterErin

I'm not american & I read this blog from Dubai, so it might be why I have a different opinion. I love this dress, I agree that it possibly doesn't suit her very well, but I think fair play to her for having a go at something different. No one can upstage Michelle Obama she looked absolutely stunning but I for one would be happy to see more of Desiree's style on the blog!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterhellwafashion

Have a look at the way the designer styled it for the runway - the shoes!!!!! Yikes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeeGee

This dress is not attractive on her and it is not suited for her position. There are probably times
this would be OK, but I can't think of one; maybe the red carpet at the Oscars.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterchar

Junya Watanabe designed for Commes des garcons for a while, and as much as I love Commes des garcons and Watanabe I'd never pick them for formal black tie affairs. I agree with you hellwafashion. I think the fit on this lady makes the outfit look so much worse than it might be. The colour does nothing for her either. I disagree though on the idea that the blog should cover any other person besides Michelle Obama. The blog is dedicated to Michelle, let's keep it that way. It is important that this not be turned into a popularity contest pitting women against each other.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterLe

I didn't like this dress either. what was she thinking and why wear the same color as the first lady? But boy does she looks so young! doesn't she look much younger than her age and I think it is her genes and not the usual facial enhancement work...I thought she was in her thirties and I found out that she's 50!!! She's older than Mrs. O and she really looks like a college grad does she not?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRashmi

@hellwafashion Wow, Dubai. That's awesome. Miss Rogers is a pretty girl and I feel she was ill-advised on this dress selection because it does nothing to compliment her prettiness. Even with the poorly matched accessories and the wrinkle-look of the material, she still glows. Maybe something by Chanel would have been wiser?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterReena from The Block

I'm ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE Rachel Zoe, Andre Leon Talley, Anna Wintour and that lot love it but seriously though...it's absolutely hideous.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRory Knight

We should show Desiree Rogers the same level of respect we would Mrs. O. That doesn't mean you have to like the dress, but let's be as nice as possible please...

Does anyone else think it's exciting to see the Social Secretary in Comme des Garcons? I keep thinking of 13 year old blogger Tavi Gevinson who is in Tokyo with Rei Kawakubo right now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 11:53 PM | Registered CommenterMrs. T

You would have to be about 20 years old to carry this off. Desiree is very trim and fashionable but this is just sad.

There were some beautiful dresses worn tonight, many draped Indian style. The wife of the director M Night shayamalan (?) wore a lovely white w/black edged sari type dress. Katie Couric had a lovely flowing silk blue dress. Gov Jindal's wife sizzled in a tight black one-shoulder sheath. Alma Powell was stately and perfect in a dress and brocade jacket.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commenternonpasserat

I totally agree Mrs. T. If some of the comments above were said about our Mrs.O, most of us would have already jumped to her defense....just something to keep in mind.

As for the ensemble, I love her shoes and her confidence to wear something so.....out there!
Look at her smile, she obviously loves what she's wearing, not because it's pretty (because it's obviously not), but because of its uniqueness.
Let's not forget that Mrs. O and Ms. Rogers are friends. I can totally imagine the first lady LOL when she saw Ms. Rogers and asking her: "girl, what are you wearing?" :)
As for appropriateness, why not? The gown is ugly, but I don't see what's so inappropriate about it.....I'll bet there were countless other ugly gowns there, but one would not call them inappropriate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:17 AM | Registered Commenterzile

As I said earlier, I give her credit for putting it out there. I think it's brave. I cannot help but believe that this dress was no surprise to our Michelle and would even venture a guess that it was met with FLOTUS' approval. Nothing could detract from Michelle tonight and she is appreciative of the art of dressing, especially dressing to please oneslf. She loves the artistic value in fashion, even if maybe it's not something that she would wear personally. That's what fashion is all about!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:19 AM | Registered CommenterCharlene in Detroit

The Social Secretary's choice is indicative of the modernity of the NEW White House. I find it rather refreshing. Away with the stuffy old rules, gowns and expectations! The gown is not designed to be fitted to the body and I think she wears it as well as it can be worn off the runway.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterajaydee

I LOVED Desire's gown. She really is a true fashionista...she doesn't do boring traditional. Very sophisticated fashion sense that I wouldn't t expect many to "get." It's okay. I LOVED Michelle's gown just as much, but Michelle just isn't as fussed about fashion as clearly Desire is. Keep up the good work Desiree. You are FABULOUS.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 12:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterDesireIsFlava

Thanks for posting this, Mrs. T. I love the dress and how Desiree looks in it and was starting to feel a bit lonely on the main thread! Commes is a little out there but I think a White House social secretary is always a little "out there." She's an artist at heart.

A good social secretary will absorb, distill and present the essence of the White House & administration she's working for. All layered within a strict set of rules, guidelines, protocol, history, diplomatic concerns, pragmatic concerns, logistics, media spotlight and so on.

(boy, it's hard to explain what I'm thinking here....)

So, I think this dress (by a very intellectual designer with a wry sense of humor) is perfect for Desiree to wear to the event. She's sort of the walking-embodiment of the event, which combines all the practical concerns with artistry and fun and welcome and a little New World spirit of adventure.


(What I think the dress itself is all about is something beyond what I just wrote, because I don't know what Rei means with the dress or whether Desiree thought past "I like myself in this dress,"but I think the dress is all about layers of femininity. It is IS sort of fronted with a kitchen-apron, but the "apron" has real pearls sewn on it and all is covered by a sort of second-skin.)

(And that's about the furthest my feeble brain can take it.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 1:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterdesertwind

Well said Mrs T.
Only wish you would be this quick, firm, clear and categorical when people pile on disrespectfully on the First Lady.
I think Desiree looks good and very fashion forward. But then I do love Commes des garcons, even if it's not for everyone. I think this will have many lives as a complex and intricate vintage piece. It has a certain victorian quality to it and the champagne satin shoes add a soft, dressy, feminine touch to this slightly edgy look.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 1:29 AM | Registered CommenterCamille

You know, call me crazy, but I think I might love this dress. I don't know why. Sometimes things just hit me the right way. I love how unusual it is, I love the idea of wearing something like this at a state dinner (there are more colors available than red, white, blue or black!) and I love the fact that heck yeah, she's intentionally drawing attention. Unless she tackled a photographer and forced him to take a picture of her, that's fine. There's still no question to me that Michelle is the star of the show.

There's even something faintly Indian-ethnic about the cut and styling, to me. I say, go on, Desiree, with your bad self. This is one fashion-forward White House.

PS. This isn't the same color as the First Lady's dress, to me. Is my computer monitor acting up again? This looks to me to be in the pink-cream family, while Michelle's dress looks to me to be gold-silver.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 1:57 AM | Registered CommenterChristina

I like it. She actually is quite the fashion icon in the DC area. She looks glowing and great - full of self-confidence. She isn't trying to one-up anyone, she's just clearly enjoying the moment. I recently read that she wears a lot of black and this may just be such a departure for her that she can't believe how amazing color (even though it's muted) can make you feel. She looks like she is having a great time. She just looks PRETTY. Rock on, Desiree!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 2:32 AM | Unregistered Commentercanyongal

Well, good on you, Christina, and others who like this dress. I wish I could, but it's just too much for me.

I've always liked Desiree. I think she's awfully cute, and I admire her for wearing something that she obviously enjoyed very much. By the confident and happy look on her face, I'd say she's wearing what makes her happy, so I'm glad she went for it. Her boss, Mrs. O, no doubt approved of her doing what she liked.

I think that if this dress fit better around the waist, I could possibly warm up to it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 3:50 AM | Registered CommenterWillow

OMG !!!! I absolutely love Desiree's dress. Very daring and very fashion forward. There were way too many "safe" outfits tonight so I give Desiree credit for daring to be different. I love it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterjestina

Truly awful, unflattering and very ill-fitting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterChristen

Adding to my earlier dissertation (with love!)...

I think Desiree is sort of a fashion alter-ego to Mrs. O and I imagine Mrs. O admires her derring do.

As first lady, Mrs. O can be adventurous & personal only within a fairly confined space. It's fabulous what she can do within that space, but -- lordy! -- it's a minefield if she steps near the edges of that space. And, in a way, that's fine for her because I don't think it's within her personal nature to go too too crazy with her fashion.

I imagine that Desiree is sort of Mrs. O's fashion alter-ego. Her friend who is comfortable with stepping out of line and someone she admires and loves for it.

I know I can't convince people who don't like Desiree's look here (or Commes des Garcon in general) but this really was an emotional show. BTW, if you look carefully in the dark next to the runway, you can see Ikram Goldman on the left in some of the pix,

http://www.style.com/fashionshows/review/F2009RTW-CMMEGRNS/

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterdesertwind

I agree that the Rogers dress is unflattering to her body, a case where the dress is more important than the woman.What bothers me more though is how that she wishes to draw attention to herself. Ideally a first lady's social secretary stays in the background; Jackie K got the credit for her events of the era, not her social secretary, though later and even now it is fun to read Letitia Baldridge and learn the details about the behind the scenes activities. In contrast, Desiree seems to think she deserves equal billing. I've noticed she now speaks to audiences too before Michelle does and I don't see what's in it for Michelle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterms

Insomnia strikes, so I'll talk some more....

Robin Givhan had a recent Washington Post article re the current National Textile Museum exhibit featuring a survey of the wardrobe of a Cincinnati art dealer & modern art curator who's been wearing avant garde Japanese designers for the last three decades.

"Fashion sense & Midwestern sensibility."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/23/AR2009102300167.html

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 4:25 AM | Unregistered Commenterdesertwind

One reader says that if the negative comments were about Mrs. Obama than some of the other readers and writers would be outraged.....I DON'T THINK SO. Mrs. Obama has had her share of bad clothing choices....remember the red and black dress she wore after Mr. Obama won the presidency???----HATED IT!!!! Ms. Rogers dress was inappropriate for the occasion and it was age appropriate. Ms. Rogers is 50-something not 20-something. TRYING TO LOOK YOUNG ALWAYS MAKES YOU LOOK MUCH, MUCH OLDER----just ask TIM GUNN!!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 6:31 AM | Unregistered Commenterphyllis

I like that it's unusual, I like that it's ironic: the "muted elegance" of the pearls between fabric at an extravagantly elegant soiree. But I don't like that it's fitted in the hips but not in the waist; it seems to be cut for a woman with a more boyish figure. All in all, it's nice to see a fashion choice at a state dinner that aims to surprise!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 6:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichelle C.

Thank you Desiree, I love CDG, and love the dress! If you want to do edgy American you should check out Gary Graham, just went to his store and fell in love!
Keep it up...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

A HOT MESS!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered Commentermsmoe

I have nothing good to say about the dress so I won't comment. I love Desiree's strength of character though, so I applaud that.

I am deeply saddened, however, by the consistent assumption from a lot of quarters that a strong woman choosing to wear Comme des Garcons to a state dinner must necessarily be trying to outdo her boss and friend.

Do we really believe that Desiree Rogers and Michell Obama would have been friends for this long if either of them had been that pathetic?

Do we really believe that Michelle Obama would assume that the strength of an individual she trusts so much she gave her the job of White House Social Secretary is actually a threat?

Do WE, as women, believe that every other strong woman we know who comes to a party we give - dressed really well, is therefore trying to outdo us?

If anyone answers yes to any of the three questions, they must be very insecure.

A strong woman colleague of mine who turns up to an event I've organised, dressed with strength of character and originality, would be welcomed with joy as an equal.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:20 AM | Registered CommenterPosh Tater

At first glance I thought Desiree Rogers had dashed out of the kitchen with her apron on. This dress has just a touch of humor, which I like. It doesn't upstage Michelle but definitely makes an impact. Here is a social secretary who is having fun and doesn't take herself or bejeweled state occasions too seriously.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterNakajima

That dress is too avant garde, but I like her shoes. The color matches the dress.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 8:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterIfe

Well said, Posh Tater.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMichelle C.

I think this dress is totally unappropriate for a State Dinner in the White House. She is absolutely beautiful and doesn't need a dress like that to distract from her beauty. Mrs. O looked stunning. I hope everyone had a lovely time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterKitti

To try and be positive the dress looks better here than on the model in the runway shot. Strangely the bits that look most rumpled and wrinkled are in exactly the same places in both pics so obviously intended.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandra

Well, you can call me crazy, too, Christina, but I also like this. But then I've always been a fan of unusual and daring designs that you know for sure won't be showing up on two or three other women.

Well said, Posh! I think it's ludicrous to believe that she'd try to upstage her friend and boss after such a long and amicable relationship. Must women in subordinate positions always be sure to look plain to avoid being accused of attention grabbing? I don't believe even the likes of Princess Diana or Jackie Kennedy could have upstaged Mrs. O last night!

Also well said, Mrs. T. Apparently the usual defenses--she's an adult and can choose her own clothing, she buys her own clothing, rules are outdated and stupid, we shouldn't try to change her, we should say what we need to say in a respectful manner--don't apply???? Hmmmm

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:22 AM | Registered CommenterMsG

Desiree Rogers is a very attractive woman, but she made the classic mistake of choosing a dress that is wearing her - - I can't see where it flatters her in any way. Someone else said that there might be a movie star that could pull it off and I agree, but I think the dress should have probably stayed where it was designed to look its best - - on the model who wore it on the runway.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterlann

I like this dress

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered Commenterjulie

Actually I think this dress really rocks from the thighs up. Pretty color, very cutting edge design and beautiful detailing. But from the thigh down, it looks like CARGO PANTS complete with KNEE GUARDS for rollerblading.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:29 AM | Registered Commenterbabs

People in DC don't really care for 'fashion' outside of JCrew and Ann Taylor, so I appreciate her for this! Bring some texture, art and fun back into clothes, DC!! Give me something to enjoy on the metro.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterMe

I think that she looks cute...
Actually, it's not about her; it's about the Obamas...and they ALWAYS ROCK!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterhowudoin

I sort of like it! And I bet it looks better moving than in a still picture. The heaviness of the beading against the very light silk chiffon is probably not at its best unless it's seen live.

To those who worry that Desiree upstaged (or intended to upstage) Mrs. O, I'd suggest looking again at the room which she, Mrs. O and the White House staff created for last night's event. With the exception of Mrs. O, was anyone really looking at anything except that tented wonderland? It was gorgeous, dramatic, exotic and exciting. Desiree's fine hand is all over the look of the evening, and she deserves lots of credit.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 9:50 AM | Registered Commenteroperafanatic

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