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From the Sunday Styles, New York Times critic Cathy Horyn offers fresh first lady fashion perspective. Horyn's central question (from the print edition): "Michelle Obama has used celebrity and style to redefine the role of first lady. Now, with four more years in the White House, can she step off the glamour pedestal and broaden the reach of her powerful voice?"

My instinct is to wonder why greater influence would necessitate eschewing "the glamour pedestal." Why should power and glamour be in conflict with one another? Would love to hear your thoughts and perspective!

"Michelle Obama, First in Fashion" [NY Times]

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Reader Comments (44)

Interesting question. Anyone who has followed the first lady will know that she is already more than the clothes she wears. Fashion and design only add to the work she has done on behalf of military families and children as well as being a great ambassador for her husband and role model mothering. What more do folks want. She may have been a reluctant FLOTUS, but she has blossomed and made the role her own.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered Commenteralmablanca@msn.com

Mrs T, I couldn't agree with you more. The article seems to imply that for us to hear what someone is saying they can't distract us by being too well put together. I think we deserve a bit more credit than that.

I for one have always enjoyed the first lady's style but she's also inspired me to garden, eat better, exercise and volunteer and she looked good doing it.. don't see the problem!

Looking forward to the next 4 years!

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Registered Commentermincey

The First Lady's style is only one facet of her presentation to the world. It is, after all, more than a full time job. For me, she has redefined First Ladies forever. I do not envy the next one, who will have a very tough act to follow. Another reason to make Hillary prez so the First Lady is...Bill! Now that is thinking outside the box!

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered Commentersoozzie

Since when is our Michelle on a 'glamour pedestal', an English 'Kate' such as might be in a British tabloid scandal or the Hollywood movie star-like 'glamor puss' fascination with scintillating or voluptuous beauty, dependent on make-up artifice and trickery?

Maybe, some folks find it difficult to find exterior beauty in our First Lady as in Grace Kelly or Cleopatra, but she is truly a lovely woman, wife, confidante, and mother role-model. I don't recall reading of this description for Eleanor Roosevelt, nor Martha Washington, Patricia Nixon, Abigail Adams, Mrs. Gerald Ford. Even Jackie Kennedy had her own persona, apart from a fashion plate. Yes, Jacki O was attractive, not decorous, and wore pleasantly styled apparel, but she was not an innovator of fashions-- a 'real woman' not just more to do with decorum than paragon. Marilyn Monroe might be more correctly described as a glamorpuss in the Kennedy presidency, but she was not First Lady.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Nakajima

Mr. Wooldridge, "cut off from her roots" because she wears glamourous clothes? What a sad observation. Mrs. Obama reminds me of her roots, my roots and all the roots of women in my family--no matter what she wears or how her hair is combed. Women have transcended (a very long time ago) from assessing our values by what we wear, how our hair is styled and what MEN may think of us. I am disappointed, sad and angry by the statement as I approach 2013 and have lived well over 50 years on earth. Shame on you!

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterAuntie Mom

I think this lady needs to remember that when you point the finger at someone, three are pointing back at you. Her question should be, "why does the media choose to focus on the First Lady's fashion instead of her important initiatives?" Mrs. O has never asked for the fashion attention she receives. When asked about it, she always says she just chooses to wear what she likes. It's not her fault that the headlines are always "Michelle dawns........" instead of "Michelle meets with business leaders about military family employment" or something like that. I also agree that having style and being strong should not be mutually exclusive. I don't think a woman has to dress like a nun (no offense) to be taken seriously. The clothes that Mrs. O wears show a lot about the confidence and power that she has. I think it's society that needs to change it's thinking, not Michelle Obama!

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 3:31 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

Horyn may have phrased it as a question; all the same, it is nothing more than a put down. It is one of many ways that women undermine other women (especially those more powerful or accomplished or beautiful than themselves). A non sequitur, it does not follow that Obama's reach would broaden in dowdy clothing. If she's going to make simple missteps of logic like that (Rhetoric 101), needless to say, the reach of Horyn's voice at the New York Times won't match the reach of Obama's from the White House any time soon.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilly

I was offended by the comments of Ms Horyn. If I read it correctly she implies that Mrs. Obama spends all of her time on her fashion.
What about Wounded Warriors, Military Families, eating healthy, obesity in children, let's move, organic gardening,public service etc.?

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterEsther Shapiro

The author of that article is notoriously shrill imo. I rarely take what she says seriously. It seems like an outdated notion that you can't dress well AND care about issues.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenn

Michelle Obama has re-defined what a first lady should be. She is attractive but works at being physically fit; beautifully dressed but rewears and combines her clothes; well-educated with a professional career but appreciates how hard she and many others have worked to reach their career goals; entertains and travels in famous circles but kneels down to hold a little child, work at a soup kitchen or talk to someone in need; cares for her family and friends but shows concern for all other famililes. She has used somthing other than celebrity and style to influence America - she has used her own warmth, love and awareness of what really matters to the rest of the world. Beautiful dresses and jewellry are just the window dressing to a genuine, caring, intelligent woman . Michelle Obama is not on a glamour pedestal - she is grounded in the real world that we all live in.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergrandma marilyn

I see no reason why Mrs. O cannot continue to be a stunning sartorial presence and yet carry on with all the good work she has done in her role as a first lady. I often disagree with Horyn's comments about our First Lady.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 6:49 PM | Registered CommenterBevi

I too was offended by the article. Never before have we had a first lady to truly represent all of us so well. I think Michelle is serving us well on all fronts. If she took on more "policy" matters the media would clobber her (Remember Hillary Clinton and health care). She is absolutely fine and I look forward to four more years.

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered Commentershyril

With all due respect the nyt writer missed tge point. Mr O never chose to be on a glamor pedestal. The media put her there. I for one am looking forward to a press that will place more focus on what she has accomplished. She will run out of new styles soon:)

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 9:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I agree with your comment, that Mrs Obama doesn't have to step off of the "glamour pedestal." Ms Horyn is using an old paradigm - the dumb, pretty girl or the smart, frumpy/ugly girl. Mrs O can be fiercely stylish AND substantial. There is that in US discourse that 2 or more things must be mutually exclusive...not so

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 1:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterinnocentia74

I've always thought that FLOTUS did an admirable job of dispelling the notion that fashion and intelligence could not go hand in hand! Being chic is only one facet of a woman's total worth!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterKywstgal

A pedestal is a pedestal, and we can all count on Michele to continue wisely using her position on top of hers. Silly old comment Cathy Horyn makes; Cathy, dear, don't forget your words ought to be more thoughtful than that - - don't just make large statements to provoke sales for your paper! Mrs. O's glorious exterior is but one expression of her magnificent interior, and we can all be sure she'll keep it up. Many thanks to you, Mrs. T, for your blog!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth A A

I read this article the other day and was perplexed by Ms. Horyn's perspective. First Lady Obama chose her issues for the first 4 years and perhaps she will choose something different for the next. Personally, I don't think there's anything more pressing than the pandemic of childhood obesity in this country. If we can get this next generation on track to excercising and eating healthier, it could change our country for generations to come.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterStrong Foru

I had never heard of this ms Horyn, so I googled her name and when I saw her picture, my first thoughts after reading her article were confirmed: Just an unhappy looking woman who probably cannot deal with a bright, shiny, loved and admired personality.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

The irony of this article is that, while the author laments the over-emphasis on First Lady Fashion, the article has no less than FOUR accompanying slide-shows of Gorgeous Mrs. O fashions! Seems to me we should just Embrace the Happy Reality which is: the First Lady is an Exciting, Innovative & Graceful dresser w/Awesome Accessories! This is Hardly ALL she is, so why the rather simplistic assessment of Michelle Obama from Ms Horyn? Is Ms Horyn operating, to some degree, under the notion that Fashion is Shallow (a holdover from our Puritanical past, that we must not focus on the "things of this world" such as Fashion)? Such a view ignores how Fun Fashion is! There is no "sin" in enjoying Fashion as Gorgeous as that which Mrs. Obama is seen in, especially as Mrs. Obama's choices of clothes & accessories WILL be scrutinized no matter What! Our First Lady's outfits also serve to Enhance her Strength, Dignity, Daring, Creativity & Intelligence, as a Woman & as First Lady.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterZell

When I read the article, I felt this person had no idea of what she has witness the last 4 years. A very smart and well planned way of using fashion and non-threatening issues to help re-elect the president. Also, it is the way Mrs Obama conducted her business life before her husband's run for the presidency. She was a well-dressed professional woman who always dressed well. I know she will tackle tougher issues but she will do so with style.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Like most here, I found Horyn's article offensive--and its thesis ridiculous. Add to that: "insidious," "disingenuous 'praise'," and "coded." No matter the accompanying pictures and the term "glamorous," it's a thinly (and poorly) veiled attack on Michelle Obama as a smart, influential, confident, and iconic First Lady, and as a "Black woman." Yes, decry the ("racial card"?) accusation if you wish, but if Horyn’s article is parsed and contextualized in terms of the disproportionate scrutiny and the (unwarranted) hysteria caused by Barack and Michelle Obamas being President and First Lady, Horyn's "spit" is as easy to spot as a water stain on a champagne flute--if only you'd take your eyes off the bubbles--which it appears is where she wants to keep the readers' attention. Horyn’s article, if read closely and “between the lines,” I’m convinced, artfully employs the “pedestal” as a metaphor for “uppity.” (But that's a thesis that cannot be properly explored here, unfortunately.)

Foremost, Michelle Obama as First Lady has been intelligent, kind, compassionate, concerned, practical, witty and, yes dam*it!, beautiful and stylish. She’s also fit—make that “phyne!”—can dance, and is so authentic and natural in her skin, that kids cling to her, the President hugs her and holds her hand every chance he gets, and adults (some of us, anyway) wish that we could get in on that hug-thing with the her.

Is she glamorous? You bet. Stylish? Damn right. And why wouldn’t she be—given the few alternatives and the circumscribed nature of the role of first lady? (Picture me saying this slowly: She…is…the…First…Lady.) Most first ladies ascend , even if unwillingly, to the glamour pedestal almost by default; it practically comes with the territory. If Michelle Obama didn’t outfit herself stylishly well, I imagine Cathy (and Robin) would be shrill-ingly meowing about that. (Think “short” shorts at the Grand Canyon a few years ago.) But dare I say it: Michelle Obama is not on a pedestal solely because she’s glamorous. Anything but. As I’ve already said, she is intelligent, compassionate and authentic in a way that has been transcendent, meaningful, and accessible to children, women and men across the globe. And her civic interests and efforts thus far have reached far and wide. That Horyn’s article doesn’t fully acknowledge this, reveals her to be obdurate, disingenuous and grace-less. Or “blind.”

Michelle Obama is an American Everywoman. She is easily a first lady, loving mother, good girlfriend, girl next door, good neighbor, f”ine-a** woman” (as us brothas say in the barbershop), and lady all wrapped into One. And gazillions of us feel it, see it, admire it, and hold her in vaulted esteem because of it. That’s the real pedestal!—if one exists. And if the First Lady should stand upon it draped in Jason Wu, Barbara Tfank, Michael Kors, or that Tracy Reese number she “busted up in” at the DNC (my favorite!), looking regal, pretty or “clean as all get-out” (the barbershop, again), then all the better. Because I know the whole world is watching. And listening. And learning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Perry

Maybe the author is ignorant or maybe just trying to sell papers the lazy way. We have all seen Michelle jumping rope, digging in the garden, serving food to the needy on holidays, opening the White House to military families and on and on. And she does it while celebrating modern fashion for modern women. Enough said.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPM Savannah

Oh Cathy, Cathy, you just dont know WHAT to make of this truly remarkable woman, First Lady Michelle Obama. Why dont you pay close attention for the next four years, then maybe, just maybe you will write another article....oh never mind.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdear

Marcus Perry, you betta preach man!!!!!!!! What you said times infinity!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 5:39 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

There is nothing wrong with style and substance! FLOTUS has both and if she is on a pedestal, she was PUT there by the fashion media. I resented the comment "her clothes are too tight" Sounds like a jealous designer and a shrill fashion writer to me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

Marcus and Nyon---AMEN!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

Well said, Marcus, Philly, Grandma Marilyn, etc.
I stumbled upon this article several days before and was like, WTF, until I looked and saw who wrote it.
Cathy Horyn. Yea, the same Cathy Horyn who tried to insist that Sarah Palin had more style and ought to be more of a fashion darling to the industry than Michelle Obama. LOL!
Yes indeed, Horyn furiously churned out several columns pushing and arguing for Ms. Palin while practically demeaning and insulting Mrs Obama.
And 4 years later, nothing seems to have changed for Cathy Horyn.
She is still very much mired in her deeply hostile, bitter, petty, condescending, spiteful obsession with Mrs Obama.
Still can't stand the fact that Mrs Obama continues to effortlessly defy the very stereotypes crafted and perpetuated by Cathy Horyn and her ilk who also operate on the premise that society has bestowed upon them - and in Ms Horyn's case, simply based on the color of her skin - the power to decide who rates, makes the cut and who doesn't: The only reason Ms Horyn would twist herself into a pretzel trying to without any sense of shame or embarrassment, make a straight-faced argument for why Sarah Palin is actually the more "interesting" and "responsible" fashion-forward personality than Mrs Obama. LOL!
This article continues to expose Cathy Horyn for what she has always been and clearly continues to be: still very much a vocal part of the rabid anti-Obama crowd and still very much suffering from serious Obama derangement syndrome.
When Horyn isn't contradicting herself, damning with feint praise or angling for more negative focus on and public outrage over Mrs Obama's "glamorous clothes", she's quoting fellow envious, bitter, spiteful rabid ODS sufferers like her "anonymous" designer who doesn't dress Mrs Obama (aka Oscar de La Renta) and the racist, right-wing British pig from the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge, who instead of tackling great world economic matters in a seriously unstable and threatened economic global market, seems instead mind-boggingly preoccupied and obsessed with Mrs Obama and insists on reminding her of her "roots" and how said "roots" somehow preclude Mrs Obama from wearing "glamorous clothes". What a traitor to her "roots" dressing nicely makes Mrs Obama! How dare she veer from her impoverished roots! Because according to the all-knowing Adrian Wooldridge, in the end ones clothes, especially in Mrs Obama's case, are the most vital, most important predictor of how "cut off" one has become from their "roots" - and one must never be "cut off" from ones roots in that way! Ever.

It is incredibly ironic and telling that Mr Wooldridge mentions Mrs Obama's education at ivy league universities Princeton and Harvard, but yet still feels this very educated and accomplished woman has to be instructed by an english man. In much the same way Cathy Horyn feels qualified to dissect and instruct Mrs Obama from her condescending perch as in her mind, a superior white woman.
But that has been the story since President Obama and his wife ascended to the highest office in the land. Suddenly for the first time, the American President and First Lady are everyone else's servants and must do the bidding of all - including those who hate them and would do them grievous harm. Everyone else knows best and precisely when, where and what the Obamas ought to be doing, eating, wearing.
For the first time in American history the President and First Lady are treated like slaves (I'm sure Alan Wooldbridge would effusively support this particular nod to their "roots").
They aren't even allowed to enjoy the basic perks of the job long unquestioned or unchallenged or ever begrudged in previous presidencies.
In the end however, this is article is more about Cathy Horyn than it ever was about Mrs Obama.
When a woman whose entire livelihood depends on fashion describes fashion as "frivolous" just to score cheap points against Mrs Obama, you know it's time for the NYtimes to stop the pretenses and finally put the tired, jealousy-ravaged, pathetic, stuck in Jim Crow era, bitter, spiteful, condescending Ms. Horyn, out of her misery.
Retire Cathy Horyn.
But for all those like-minded folks for whom Cathy Horyn speaks on behalf of, never fear! You've still got the equally obsessed, condescending, slimy, sneaky, underhanded Jodi Kantor at the NY Times. She'll gladly pick up the slack where Cathy Horyn leaves off. Notice how Ms Kantor's "book" is the basis for much of Cathy Horyn's tripe.
Here's hoping Mrs Obama continues to do exactly what SHE decides is best for her, her husband, her kids and this country - in her role as First Lady.
She has been authentically exquisite and I personally wouldn't change a thing!

Rock on Mrs Obama, Rock on magnificent First Lady!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 6:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterC.

@ C: I love your post. It's razor blade-sharp and solid as a boulder. ...I thought I had swatted the "fly," but it looks like you splattered it against the wall with a brick! (If I knew you, I'd buy you lunch!)

...And a big Thank You to the owner and editors of this site for allowing the fashionable (and "furious!" :-) fans of this site to speak candidly not only about the "fashion" and "style" of Michelle Obama, but the other "issues" that often cling to or are entangled and un-detachable from the First Lady as an avatar of invigorating style.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Perry

I read this article on Sunday, and got a very different opinion about the article.
I find Ms. Horyn's article to be rather flattering to Mrs. O, and not the hatchet job that some of you feel that it was. Ms. Horyn consistently compliments the First Lady, and basically says that Mrs. O has played her cards as First Lady deftly and thoughtfully, particularly with the economy in the state that it is in. Had Mrs O not played her game well, she would not have the approval rating that she has, rather we would only hear about her expensive clothes, and how purchasing them shows a disregard for the average American citizen who may be struggling to pay the rent. She would be vilified as a modern-day Marie Antoinette, however, the situation is drastically not that. Any negative comments(too tight dresses) in the article are quotes from others, not Ms. Horyn.
Mrs. Obama is the new model for future first ladies. She has set a tone that will require someone with great skill to follow, and part of that tone, is all about wool, cotton, silk, and leather, crafted into delicious frocks. Yes, she has taken on the traditional roles that are required for the job of First Lady, but she brings a glamour and sophistication to the role, that receives an inordinate amount of attention and critique.
In my humble opinion, what the real focus of this article is about, is Mrs. Obama using her skills, education, and abilities, to elevate her legacy to an entirely higher level. The question is....will Mrs. O continue to be a social first lady, who has a couple of platforms that she promotes, while wearing glamourous dresses, or will she become a political first lady, who works to set policy and tone, while still wearing fascinating clothes and setting style trends? Will she step into dangerous, murky waters while wearing Lanvin sneakers?
Personally, I would like to see Mrs. Obama be more political, and work on policies and issues that affect Americans, particularly women, and step out and make comments about issues, that perhaps the President can not make. But I fully understand that Mrs. O is not interested in becoming that type of first lady, and still admire her greatly. She has a balancing act that is hard to juggle...raising two daughters and being First Lady. But more immediate, she has personal choice which is leading her in the direction that she feels best fits her.
Ms. Horyn is asking for more from the First Lady, because she knows that she has more to offer us all. After all, she is a Harvard Law School graduate. What is so bad about that? We can still love and adore her, all the while asking for more.
Now of course, we don't always get what we ask for, and at times it's up to each of us to take what we have been given, in this case, a beautiful and sophisticated First Lady, and use her as an inspiration to exercise, volunteer, eat healthy, become educated, and perchance to even dress a little bit more stylishly.
After the couture has become outdated, or gotten too small, this will be the real legacy that Mrs. Obama leaves us all.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

Thank you so much Marcus, but I must admit that it was actually your post that inspired mine.
@The Cincinnati kid, if this article is "flattering" then I shudder to imagine what would qualify as a "hatchet job". And damning with feint praise is not being "complimentary"!
Most of us are very familiar with Cathy Horyn and know too well that she does not do "flattering" especially as it pertains to Mrs Obama.
I don't know if you've been living in the same America I and so many others have been these past 4 years, but there have indeed been more than enough accusations and attacks on Mrs Obama regarding her "expensive" clothes and funny you should reference that, but she has indeed been accused of being a modern day Marie Antoinette with her every outfit scrutinized and priced for the purposes of attacking her.
Mrs Obama remains popular with high approval ratings, not because there has not been a very concerted effort to tag her as every negative thing you've listed, but actually in spite of it all. Even Cathy Horyn is clearly annoyed and shares her chagrin that more has not been effectively made about Mrs Obama's "expensive" clothes and that the public backlash has not been as swift and damaging as in Ms Horyn's opinion, it should have been. That was not Cathy Horyn being "complimentary" believe me! LOL.
And no, Mrs Obama is not a "social" First Lady who has failed to become a "political" First Lady. I don't know which First Lady you've been watching but the Mrs Obama I've been following is simply not setting a tone that is all "about wool, cotton, silk, and leather, crafted into delicious frocks".

A First Lady who has been criticized for even breathing, Mrs Obama has contrary to your assertions, indeed used her "skills, education, and abilities, to elevate" not her "legacy" but actually caring for and about the much touted and talked about but rarely looked out for military and the families they leave behind when they serve our country. For previous administrations it was all talk with precious little done to actually support the families. Mrs Obama and Mrs Biden have changed that in tandem and very deft coordination with this administration. Mrs Obama has also taken up the critical issue of childhood obesity but masterfully segued into eliminating food deserts and collaborating with and getting real commitment from grocers to expand into these communities that were previously under-served. She has also pushed for and gotten more money through Congress for improved and healthy school lunches in schools - a first increase in school lunch funding in almost 30 years! But even something that important has not been without a lot of controversy. Most of it petty and partisan, but all of it disrespectful towards the First Lady.
She mentors young girls from disadvantaged neighborhoods in the D.C area and has done more to reach out to and include that community in what happens in the White House - something no other First Lady has ever done.

For what is mostly a thankless job in an unpaid position, she has been more than generous in giving of herself, her time and her energy. She still has to be a supportive wife to a much attacked and maligned President working hard in the face of much hostility and obstruction to pull the country back from the worst economic disaster since the depression, be a great mother to 2 young impressionable girls always the target of unscrupulous folks, be a good daughter to her aging mother while being careful not to upset the racists who hate the idea that she and her family live in the White House.

Most mothers I know have a hard time just being mum to one kid little else living in a fishbowl and having everyone tell you what you ought to be doing, saying, being, eating, wearing.
I watched Mrs Obama go through that grueling, unforgiving schedule campaigning for her husband on the stomp, and as much as I couldn't get enough of her, was simply floored and in complete awe of her, I can understand why this is something one does sparingly and only for someone and something she really believes in.
I think everyone forgets that this was her husband's dream not hers. She has also said that her priority is to support her husband - make his job easier, not complicate it. And as fantastic as she's been in her role, she's a very authentic human being who wants to make a difference on her own terms and is not one to run around desperate to make some contrived statement just to leave some contrived legacy.
She will have an incredible legacy - she already has, but it won't be based on stuff people like Cathy Horyn, Alan Wooldsbridge or you want her to do.
Mrs Obama is perfectly capable of discerning exactly how she makes her mark in an unpaid role without complete strangers thrusting upon her their demands, insecurities, angst, traps and the many different things Americans generally try to throw at people in the spotlight as they try to set them up to fail and just before they completely turn on them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 2:42 AM | Registered CommenterC.

"---Ms. Horyn is asking for more from the First Lady, because she knows that she has more to offer us all. After all, she is a Harvard Law School graduate. What is so bad about that? We can still love and adore her, all the while asking for more---"
And no dear, Ms Horyn with her dubious motives has no right to ask for anything of Mrs Obama especially as Ms Horyn was actually part of that group that completely rejected her and the school of thought that rebelled against the idea of her being First Lady in the first place.
And no, "we" all cannot ask any more of this woman. Nothing gives anyone the right to and not especially when the "we" are complete strangers. And "Loving" and "adoring" the First Lady still does not automatically bestow upon any of us the right to "ask for more" or make any demands of her. None whatsoever.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 4:18 AM | Registered CommenterC.

C., I like it, I like it a lot!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterNyon

I would take C and Marcus to dinner! Double AMEN!

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

A bit more about Ms. Horyn from Wikipedia:
In September 2012, Horyn's scathing review of Oscar de la Renta's Spring/Summer 2013 collection, in which she referred to him as a "hotdog of American fashion" garnered much negative press. De la Renta responded in an open letter, published in WWD, criticising the lack of professionalism and the often personal nature of her infamous reviews, saying that if he is a "hotdog", Horyn might be a "stale 3 day old hamburger". Horyn later addressed the ad through Fashionologie, defending her word choice of hotdog, "I used the term in a professional context, as someone showing off his tricks, like a surfer."

In a mock self-made newspaper column published on Twitter, designer Hedi Slimane further criticized Horyn's unprofessionalism, speculating her profession to be a publicist masquerading as a NYT journalist. In Slimane's letter, he refers Horyn's preference for designer Raf Simons, and further goes on to cite that "[Horyn] will never get a seat at Saint Laurent" but may receive "2 for 1 at Dior". Horyn wrote a negative review of Saint Laurent although she was not actually in attendance at the show. She claims she used photographs of the show to write her review.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterTHC1

It is extremely interesting that just because someone writes something on this blog, that the masses don't agree with, you become subject to attacks. In my response did I say anything negative about Mrs. Obama?. In fact, what I attempted to do was give her kudos for the extraordinary work that she has done, and make an observation based on what Cathy Horyn wrote. At no point in my response did I personally attack or malign any other writers response, because I realize that we all have opinions and are entitled to express that opinion, irregardless of what others think.
Too many of us are like rabid animals, ready to attack at the slighest provocation, warranted or unwarranted. Ms. Horyn is a critical writer, and it is up to the reader to read what she or anyone else has written and comprehend what has been written, and not just pick snippets and twist around what has been written.
Everyone will never agree on everything, but that is no reason to be mean-sprited and vile. There is a proper way to respond, and that is with civility.
I am not aware of previous articles that Ms. Horyn has written regarding Mrs. O. However, I do know the article that we are presently talking about, and I don't find this article to be out of bounds in any way, as an overall piece of critical observation. I have chosen to base my response on this particular article, not a history of Ms. Horyn's writing.
I stick by my opinion, and no amount of bullying and belligerence is going to make me waiver from my position.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

@ Cincinnati kid, who attacked you? The only thing I see is C. passionately explaining why she/he opposes your take on the article. I also see myself and others agreeing with C. However, I have yet to read where you were personally attacked (i.e. called an idiot or a hater). You lecture for your right to state your opinion, yet begrudge someone else that right because you don't like their tone, which by the way is hard to decipher in the written word. Cincinnati stick to your opinion, that is your right and I'm sure C. will stick by hers/his.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Registered CommenterNyon

@The Cincinnati Kid: It's unfortunate that you seem to think that meticulous and vigorous analysis of your (and/or Horyn's) commentary is "bullying." You really do a dis-service to the term. And I find it peculiar (make that "suspect") that just because C. picked your "argument" apart with an informed finesse, that you didn't respond with a counter-"argument." Instead, you responded with "Just because the masses..." and "Everyone will never agree on everything..." ..."Really? I mean, "really-really?" Just because your point-of-view isn't the dominant one (on this particular post), opposing POVs are summarily reduced to "the masses"?

As Nyon stated, no one "attacked" You. (Most commentators on this blog appear too educated and sophisticated--if you care to notice--for that.) Besides, we don't even know you--or each even other for that matter. Yet, no attempt at "distraction", by use of cliche or generalities, or crying "wolf!" is going to advance or win your "argument" much support.

Frankly, "Kid," and with some compassion, I think you're disappointed because you--meaning your "commentary"--"lost." Badly. (I know nothing of "C." beyond her/his words. Yet, C.'s argument was cogent, specific, and broad. Sparkling, even. It was not petty, hyperbolic, cliched, or stomp-your-feet-ish.)

That you "read" something different in Horyn's article is fine. And defend it however and how often you please. Yet, given the comments on this posting, I don't think it will change much or sway many in your direction. As one of my students would say, "You lost, 'boo.' Just accept it." Or maybe a lyric from a Kenny Rogers song might be more fitting: "...You gotta know when to walk away, know when to run..."

Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Perry

@The Cincinnati Kid, I read and re-read the Cathy Horyn article and I agree with you. I did not see what was so negative about it. I appreciate your opinion and your defense of it.

Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

@Jenna - Thank you for your comments. You have restored my confidence in reading and reading comprehension.

Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

@Cincinnati Kid, it is vital to remember at all times that this is a tribe, a very closed tribe with strict rules of conduct. You broke the rules, you get chastised. It's that simple.

Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan

My response is lengthy, so I will break it up into two posts:

Possibly the way some writers write with backhanded praise and sweet phrases embellished with sour grapes often makes it hard for less discerning readers to read between the lines. However, when the lines don’t make a great deal of sense and are intentionally or randomly full of spite masquerading as popular opinion, I think it should be crystal clear that the writer has some kind of agenda, even if it is not fully formed and is more than a bit confounding and discombobulated.

Personally, when I first ran across the NYT article, “First in Fashion,” I did not recall what Cathy Horyn had written in the past about Mrs. O. I disagree with many of Horyn’s viewpoints in this article and with her overall theme. In my opinion, Ms Horyn has simply run out of things to say about Mrs. Obama’s fashion sense, her influence on fashion, and all the great things she has achieved while looking fabulous and in-charge. Apparently, another end-of-year, pre-Inauguration Mrs. Obama fashion article was needed, so Ms. Horyn tried her best to come up with a new slant and came up short:

#1 Mrs. Obama’s clothes don’t get more attention than her values and her leadership. But apparently Ms. Horyn’s attention has strayed more toward Mrs. O's clothes, for whatever reason. Take note: Mrs. Obama wears the clothes, they do not wear her. What she wears bears import because she knows who she is and how to dress herself in style. It is Mrs. O’s substance however that always remains front and center.

#2 Michelle Obama has always had “latitude” to do whatever she pleases, in her own time and in her own way!

#3 No one can “vilify” Mrs. Obama, including conservatives, because they would look absolutely foolish doing so, perhaps even more foolish than Ms. Horyn herself seems to be with the startling assumptions and assertions she makes in this article.

#4 Maybe it is Ms. Horyn who secretly mulls over what it must be like to take “immense pleasure” engaging in traditional First Lady pursuits, “like fashion, entertaining, and gardening.” That must be why Ms. Horyn is vicariously attributing such “immense pleasure” to Mrs. Obama. In my opinion, Mrs. Obama seems to gain pleasure in leading a purposeful life, in raising her children well, in supporting and loving her husband, and in giving to others in the most intelligent, caring and beneficial ways that she can. I’m certain Mrs. Obama knew about and enjoyed fashion, always looked good, knew about and enjoyed entertaining, gardening and hosting public and private family events long before she entered The White House. Mrs. O brought who she IS and what she knows with her, and she’s also learned along the way about how to avoid the pitfalls and transcend the limitations of the role of First Lady.

#5 As to Ms. Horyn’s question about why fashion “hasn’t caused political problems” for Mrs. Obama, my question to Ms. Horyn is: Why should fashion cause problems of any kind for Mrs. Obama? She intelligently and wisely knows how to engage with fashion and how to have fun with it. She also understands how to discreetly promote the work of young designers, well known designers, and little known designers in a way that credits their immense and important talent. At the same time, she never becomes caught up with fashion in a prideful or vain way. In other words, Mrs. O is not a “creature” of fashion. She can look good without allowing clothes and fashion to define her or to become the be-all and end-all of her existence. The best designers already know this about clothes and fashion – i.e., it is usually the woman who has a strong sense of style and of self-hood who makes what she wears shine, not vice versa. I believe that is the major reason why designers and the fashion industry love Mrs. Obama. She enhances and elevates fashion, even as she rises above its mundane fripperies and pretensions (such as those most often bandied about by pretentious journalists and fashionista wannabes).

#6 I doubt Mrs. Obama has ever worried about the “traps of being associated with a materialistic industry.” Apparently, it is Ms. Horyn who views the fashion industry as “materialistic.” Mrs. Obama exhibits a sublime and fun sense of fashion know-how. She doesn’t restrict herself to a rigid image, nor does she seem to limit her choices when dressing herself. I think her ability to view and treat fashion in both a fun and a practical way, while maintaining a discreet distance from direct personal involvement with designers, simply demonstrates her respect for designers and for the industry.

It doesn’t equate to materialism for a modern, intelligent and powerful woman to acquire and value beautiful articles of clothing, and to know how to wear them well, fashionably and with unique flair. It is quite obvious that Mrs. O is mindful and respectful of the talent, skill, creativity, dedication and exhaustive attention to detail that is a necessity for designers to be successful. She is clearly appreciative and supportive of designers and fashion, but has no need to overplay or downplay what fashion means. She keeps it all in perspective.

Cont'd in next post...

Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 2:37 AM | Registered Commenterflotusrocks

Cont'd --
In the rest of her article, Ms. Horyn brings up a variety of issues and non-issues surrounding Mrs. Obama’s impact on the fashion industry. Ms. Horyn even presumptuously wonders how much Mrs. O spends on her clothes and shoes. Many of the conclusions and assumptions Ms. Horyn makes about Mrs. Obama’s impact and intentions run the gamut from matter-of-fact, to clueless, to overwrought, to confused.

There are a number of unfounded, and pointlessly pieced together viewpoints and meanderings in Ms. Horyn’s article, but the most abominably laughable is the notion that Mrs. Obama ever made a “decision to shift from mom and busy professional to glamour figure.” LOL, what an utterly ridiculous statement! I mean really!? Michelle Obama is the best mother and wife it is humanly possible to be! She’s Mom-in-Chief, Wife Extraordinare, a Princeton-educated lawyer, a busy professional, a loving daughter, a sister, an aunt and a sister-in-law, a loyal friend, a glamorous figure, an exceptional role model, an advocate for children and for military families and for all people in need. She’s a down-home girl, and a statuesque woman of strength who possesses an amazingly beautiful and soulfully grounded spirit. And not least, she’s the First Lady of the United States.

Mrs. T, I think Ms. Horyn either has not read your lovely, detailed and insightful book, “Mrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy,” or else she’s simply jealous that she doesn’t have the talent, vision, consummate knowledge and expertise to have written it herself. (And very likely the same is the case for Ms. Horyn in regard to Kate Betts’ excellent book, “Everyday Icon: Mrs. Obama and the Power of Style”).

I think most people who possess intelligence and forward thinking minds and who do not have an agenda or an ax to grind are uniformly inspired by Mrs. Obama and are bowled over by her essence. Oh yes, it is her essence we feel and see. People who meet Mrs. O in person likely forget all about what she’s wearing in that moment. It’s who she IS that adorns Michelle Obama at all times. Her clothes are a wonderful enhancement, but they are purely visual accoutrements that she has chosen with fun, practicality and a dashing sense of style, self-knowledge and self-confidence which are qualities she has always possessed. After all, she has to wear something! :)

And aren’t we lucky that Mrs. O is a Master Empress at being herself and dressing herself. I am especially interested in how FLOTUS has influenced and impacted the fashion industry both domestically and globally. She has had a tremendous influence and impact, and there is absolutely nothing “trivial” about what she does, who she is, her beauty, her substance, her glamour, her courage, her intelligence, her generous heart, her influential style, her striking and inspirational presence, and her genuine caring.

I will post a few more thoughts about this article, under the latest blog entry re Christmas in Hawaii, "Holiday O."

Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 2:59 AM | Registered Commenterflotusrocks

Haven't been for a long while, but happenned to see this article and returned to the site with the renewed interest about inauguration. Anyhow, Mrs. T, while I see your point, I would tend to agree with @The Cincinnati kid. This article is not negating the power of Mrs. O’s glamour but is simply wondering whether Mrs. O, who is so hugely talented in other areas, will opt to use these talents during her husband second term. True, Mrs. O has NOTHING to prove to anyone and it is up to Mrs. O whether or not she chooses to use the full array of her talents; but at this point the world is her oyster and it can only be a win-win situation if she chooses to step out of the sometimes-confining and undefined role of first lady. She can be even more of a catalyst for social change, for example, in her own way. This way, her power and glamour will complement each other instead of compete with each other—at least as the media portrays it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenternora

Happy weekend my friends! If for nothing else, I'm glad this article sparked friendly conversation and debate, which I've missed on the blog. I'm happy there was both criticism and defense of the article, which will always be invited here. It wouldn't be interesting if we all agreed on everything, and personally, I enjoy hearing a range of perspectives.

Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterMrs. T

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