Forget Auto Bailouts, Can Michelle Obama Save the Fashion Industry?

Michelle Obama in screen capture, Nov. 20, 2008Finding Michelle Obama to be the "First Lady of Fashion,"'s Luchina Fisher wondered if the president-elect's wife could save the fashion industry.:

Michelle Obama will soon be the nation's first lady and mom in chief, but others are expecting even grander things from her, like saving the fashion industry.

And who in their right mind would think that?:

"We're all obviously trying to look at the silver lining," designer Norma Kamali told "Where do we look for hope, an opportunity to create good feelings for the customer? There is real hope with Michelle Obama. I think she can keep women interested in purchasing."

Obama's name surfaced at a recent meeting of The Fashion Group International, a professional organization for members of the fashion industry. The topic of discussion was the economy, and one member wondered aloud whether Obama could bolster the industry during the current economic downturn. is hardly the first media outlet to gush over Michelle Obama's fashion sense. As my colleague Tim Graham noted in June, NBC's "Today" show praised the future first lady as a "fashion icon" who would start a "frock frenzy":

The softening of Michelle Obama’s image continued Friday morning on NBC’s Today. As if Michelle were an up-and-coming Jackie Kennedy, NBC devoted a story in its first half-hour (usually devoted to substantive news) to raving over Mrs. Obama as a "fashion icon" and the sleeveless dress she wore on ABC’s The View as starting a "frock frenzy." At the top of the show, co-host Matt Lauer announced: "Fashion frenzy. Why women everywhere are dying to get this $148 dress, today, Friday, June 20, 2008." Nineteen minutes into the first half-hour, the screen graphic was "Fashion Icon? Michelle Obama Frock Frenzy." Co-host Meredith Vieira raved the Michelle dress was a "steal" and that fashion designers "would die to dress her right now." With the celebrated dress hung like a Smithsonian Institution museum piece in the background (reserving Mrs. Obama’s place in the First Lady pantheon already?), Vieira did the gooey girl-talk job Kathie Lee Gifford was hired to do in the 10 am hour.

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