This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
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.
And now it seems designers at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York have garnered some of their inspiration this season from the power women of the Beltway.
“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,” says designer Vivienne Tam. “I want the fashion to transcend politics and ideologies to a new era.”
Tam’s collection received high-praise Sunday, along with her fellow designer Tracy Reese, who has always been well-known, but became a household name this September. That was when the First Lady wore Reese’s now-famous pink dress at the Democratic National Convention.
That didn’t mark the first time Michelle Obama turned to a design by Reese for a big appearance. A longtime favorite of Mrs. Obama, Reese is known for her flirty dresses and print driven heirloom fare, which complement the First Lady’s style and outgoing personality.
It’s also not unusual for First Ladies to become such highly-regarded fashion icons. Jackie Kennedy Onassis continued to remain a style inspiration long after her days in the White House. But now it seems women in politics are going even farther into fashion than just the classic Chanel suit. Jason Wu, Vivienne Tam, Michael Kors, and Ralph Lauren are names often associated with dressing women in Capitol Hill.
When Jill Biden emerged wearing a stunning silver coat at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in January, it marked another fashion moment on the political stage. The piece was topped with a magnificent bow that could have gone so wrong but somehow, it was just so right.
That was thanks to a woman Dr. Biden frequently turns to for her spotlight moments, designer Lela Rose.
“It was truly a pleasure to dress Mrs. Biden for the inauguration,” Rose tells the The New York Times. “She’s a classic American beauty, and she wears clothes very elegantly.”
Mrs. Biden isn’t the only woman to emerge from the White House in Rose’s designs. Former First Daughter Jenna Bush Hager is also a fan of Rose’s work, wearing one of the designer’s gowns to her father George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2005.
But as the Power Women of Washington work “fashion-forward icons” onto their ever-growing list of accolades, Tam says it’s important to remember the true definition of a powerful woman.
“Power is about having heart,” says Tam. “When you have heart, it spreads to the people around you.”