Oscar de la Renta Was Not Happy Michelle Wore McQueen

While most everyone in the business of commenting on fashion absolutely loved (and we mean loved) the red Alexander McQueen gown First Lady Michelle Obama wore to the state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao Tuesday, the frock seemed to leave a bad taste in Oscar de la Renta‘s mouth.

The designer told WWD that, from a purely economic perspective, choosing a British label for this dinner just didn’t make sense. After all, it was an American state dinner for China, not for Great Britain. He thinks the first lady would have done better to wear something designed by someone who works a little close to home than Sarah Burton.

“My understanding,” de la Renta told WWD, “is that the visit was to promote American-Chinese trade — American products in China and Chinese products in America. Why do you wear European clothes?”

But De la Renta isn’t sour because the first lady hasn’t worn one of his dresses (something we attribute to her desire to stand apart from first ladies like Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush, who wore De la Renta like it was their job). The designer says we missed a big opportunity to give young American talent the economic bump it deserves.

“I’m not talking about my clothes, my business. I’m old, and I don’t need it. But there are a lot of young people, very talented people here who do,” he said.

And he’s right — China is one of the most important emerging markets in the world, especially where fashion is concerned. Even Diane von Furstenberg would “like to sell every Chinese a t-shirt.”

Still, Obama wore that dress, whose red color signifies good luck in Chinese culture. Here’s hoping that was worth something.

OSCAR ON WATCH [WWD (Subscription Required)

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