By Designer Thony C. Anyiam.


A missed opportunity: The Michelle Obama inauguration dress controversy.

A controversial article “Co-founder of Black Artists Association slams Michelle Obama’s“ kumbaya designer pick for her inaugural dress”, in WWD magazine seems to have struck the nerves of people on both sides of the issue. Opinion expressed on this topic in the cyber world, have been passionate, and intense. The unflinching admiration for the first lady Michelle Obama is not in doubt, judging from the number of people that came to her defense.

The first lady’s prerogative to choose the designer of her choice has never been in question, and she was under no obligation to pick an African American designer to design her inauguration dress. That should be base on merit, and comfortability with the designer’s work. For some in the media to make it a racial issue is wrong.

Mrs. Obama is known for her support of lesser know label, and minority designers, a gesture that is often, and rightly so praised. We hope other celebrities would follow her lead, because we need all the help we can get.

I was one of the fortunate designers that sent sketches to the first lady’s office for consideration unfortunately; I did not meet the deadline, (my fault). Nevertheless, the huge notoriety and economic benefit from designing the President and first lady’s inauguration outfits cannot be over emphasized.

African American (black) designers were once referred to as “endanger species” because they are often ignored by the main stream print and broadcast media. They rarely participate in big fashion week events due to lack of sponsorships, and financial backing / support despite their enormous talent and creativity.

Yes, in the course of the first lady Mrs. Obama stay in the White House, she will wear outfit design by an African American (black), designer, but the core or underline issue as far as the dress controversy is concern is the missed opportunity to have a gown design by an African American designer on display in the Smithsonian of American History Museum with other first ladies gowns. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that does not happen very often, and yes it is a big deal!

Like so many people, I thought the President and First lady could have worn more than one  outfit, (any designer would be obliged to donate free of charge) to the nine inaugural balls they attended, which by itself create the opportunity to wear outfit from more than one designer.

While I congratulate designers Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu, let us look forward to the 20013 inauguration.


Thony C Anyiam is a Washington DC Metro area base fashion designer / Stylist and author of a new widely popular style book: Jumping the broom in style




Phone: 301-277-5789


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