Washington D.C. Power Women Are Influencing The Runways
5:30 pm, February 12th | by Meredith Lepore
If you are a woman who works in Washington, you might see a doppleganger of yourself at certain New York Fashion Week shows this week — well, a much taller and skinnier version of yourself. According to MSNBC, designers this year are taking major inspiration from the style of Washington D.C. power women.
Out of all the cities in the world, our nation’s capital is not usually the first one that comes to mind when we think of fashion. But in the last few years, due in very large part to Michelle Obama, D.C. has undergone something of a fashion revolution.
“The worlds of fashion and politics have been consistently collaborating as the modern Washington, D.C. woman’s wardrobe has evolved from the classic beige suite to bold patterns, colorful combinations and jaw-dropping silhouettes.”
When I was doing this collection I was so inspired by pop culture and especially the last couple months. China has a new government and Obama being re-elected was so exciting,” designer Vivienne Tam told MSNBC. “I want the fashion to transcend politics and ideologies to a new era.”
In the past few years we’ve seen D.C. women moving away from boxy suits in primary colors to dresses in softer hues.
“Fashion has evolved slowly in D.C. because the legal, government, and even corporate circles have had such firmly entrenched, often “conservative,” conformity. It just hasn’t been an expressive environment like other cities — New York, Paris, Madrid, San Francisco — where making a fashion statement is often rewarded,” said Washington fashionista Julia Farr in an interview with Citystream. “I have found, though, that most women do want to embrace a “D.C. chic” [aesthetic]: neutral-toned, classic lines with some personal flair thrown in.”
Women’s fashion in politics has also become a larger issue. This isn’t the first time a First Lady has been a style icon (hello Jackie O.) but Michelle O. has brought it to a whole new level. Michelle, in addition to Ann Romney and Jill Biden, was scrutinized for every piece of clothing she wore. Today a candidate’s spouse’s dress choices can help or hinder a campaign.F
Fashion-forward political players like Nancy Pelosi and Condoleezza Rice have also helped. The Daily Beast , which called Pelosi a fashion icon, noted that she wore her favorite lavender suit and pearls to President Obama’s first State of the Union address. She wore eggplant for a March 2nd press conference to discuss the state of healthcare reform negotiations outside her congressional office in Washington. She went with a cranberry hue for a January 14th speech at the House Democratic Caucus retreat, and then went back to the lavender number again for a joint session of Congress (clearly she isn’t afraid to repeat an outfit, either!). Her look is unabashedly feminine and it is great. Daily Beast writer Rebecca Dana said:
“The image of Pelosi marching through Washington on Sunday, with her giant gavel and a lock-step herd of Democrats at her back, is the one that will illustrate history textbooks and haunt Rush Limbaugh’s dreams. It looked as if America’s grandmother ducked out of her Easter brunch, between Bellinis, to dramatically recast the government’s approach to national health and welfare.”
Women in Washington, D.C. can take more risks and dress more femininely — Jill Biden wore a bow to the most recent inauguration, for heaven’s sake! Female power players’ fashion choices will always be analyzed to a ridiculous degree by the media, but they are finally allowed to acknowledge that they are women, and they’re getting to call more of the shots. The names Jason Wu, Tracy Reese, Vivienne Tam, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren are becoming part of the Capital Hill lexicon, and NYFW is taking notice.