First Ladies Fashion - Homeland or International?

Being in the spotlight is never easy. Especially when you are in a position of power. Being a first lady comes with many responsibilities, including dressing like one. This includes picking appropriate outfits, and more often than not, picking an appropriate designer. We took an in-depth look at five famous first ladies, contemplating whether they prefer designers from their homeland, or bigger international brands

By: Sarah Holbert

Posted on: August 16, 2016

Close to Home - Michelle Obama (USA)
As the first lady of the United States of America, Michelle Obama has been particularly active. Appearing at events other than just state dinners, Mrs O is known for her style, often ending up on multiple best dressed lists, no matter what event she was at. Observing some of her best looks, and even some of her lesser known ones, I saw a pattern. She favors four designers, wearing their creations to all kinds of events, from meeting Prime Ministers to motivating young adults to hosting White House State dinners. Mrs Obama favors Narciso Rodriguez, Michael Kors, Naeem Khan, and Jason Wu. While three of these are from America, Mr Wu is from USA’s neighbor up north, Canada. Though he may not be “American” per say, she still pulls from a designer in one of America’s most well-known, fashionable cities - New York. 

Michelle Obama in Jason Wu

Michelle Obama in Naeem Khan

Michelle Obama in Naeem Khan


A Glocal Mix - Queen Rania Al-Adbullah (Jordan)
Jordan’s queen, Rania, has some high standards. Another powerful figure, Queen Rania often ends up on many best-dressed lists, as she uses fashion to complement her place in society. Queen Rania is often seen in designers such as Elie Saab, Krikar Jabotain, and Aennis Eunis by Anas Younis Shanaah. By wearing Middle Eastern designers, Queen Rania represents the area’s fashion ingenuity in the best way, by putting it front and center in the spotlight. With these looks she not only sends a powerful message, but promotes them while keeping her image polished and something worthy of a royal. Not to say she doesn’t enjoy foreign designers such as Alexander McQueen, but for her coronation and Jordan’s Independence Day, Queen Rania makes sure her outfit reflects Middle Eastern fashion and the designers who make it.

Queen Rania of Jordan in Krikar Jabotain

Queen Rania of Jordan in Elie Saab


Home Alone - Peng Liyuan (China)
As First Lady of China, Peng Liyuan has stunned with her outfits over the years. Before becoming First Lady, Mrs Liyuan was a folk star in China, known for her patriotic songs, so fashion is nothing new to her. She prefers home based designers, such as Ma Ke and the Exception label, dressing perfectly for whatever occasion she may be attending. With her preference to domestic brands, Mrs Liyuan ensures that the brand gets limelight, leading to consequential growth for the Chinese fashion market.

Peng Liyuan of China in Ma Ke

Peng Liyuan of China in Ma Ke


Unbreakable Traditions - Jetsun Pema (Bhutan)
A premier part of a country with a dress code, Jetsun Pema manages to bring fashion to the position without breaking tradition. Her preference lies in domestic weavers such as Kelzang Wangmo, as she wears traditional Bhutanese national clothing - most often Kiras. That does not make it any less fashionable however, as the outfits are intricate and often handcrafted, making them unique among the sea of typical designer silhouettes. Her outfits are so fashion forward, Kate Middleton took it upon herself to wear one when visiting Bhutan, one that she had crafted from traditional fabric from local weavers, making for a statement of respect as well as fashion.

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan

Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan with the King of Bhutan


British to the Core - Kate Middleton (England)
Though not first lady of England exactly, Kate Middleton is part of the royal family and is known through England and the world for her sense of style. The Duchess of Cambridge knows how to live with the flash bulb, so her outfits are more often than not quite memorable. She is known for “the Kate Middleton effect”, a trend in which consumers flocked to British designers, hoping to emulate the princess’ style. She dresses simple yet elegant. Her favorite designers are Alexander McQueen, Reiss, Jenny Packham, and Temperely London, favoring British designers above all others, wearing their outfits to all kinds of events, promoting the British fashion industry in doing so. 

Kate Middleton in Alexander McQueen

Kate Middleton in Jenny Packham

Kate Middleton in Temperley London

Being the supreme feminine symbol of a country is no easy task. These first ladies and queens (and the future one) use their position to promote their homegrown designers, using the spotlight on them for good. As they promote their domestic brands, directly and indirectly, they push for the growth of their overall economy. Designers get spotlight, they earn, increase employment and project the country to fame. Here’s to these women in power, who know how to look fabulous.

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