CNN correspondent Alina Cho went out of her way to highlight First Lady Michelle Obama’s “meteoric rise to style icon status” and how it has inspired the fashion industry during a report on Thursday’s American Morning. After detailing how a dress Mrs. Obama wore on the cover of Essence magazine ended up selling well, she commented that “the bottom line is designers are looking at Michelle as a muse now.” Cho also detailed how the apparent Obama-inspired fashion craze has expanded to cosmetics and fitness classes.
Co-anchor Kiran Chetry introduced Cho’s report, which began 17 minutes into the 6 am hour of the CNN program, by trumpeting how “nearly a 100 days into her role as first lady, it’s become clear that she’s really a one-woman stimulus package for the fashion industry.” The CNN correspondent continued with similar lofty language: “Michelle Obama’s meteoric rise to style icon status has surprised even those in the fashion industry. For months, we’ve been watching everything she wears, and in many cases, we’re going out and buying it. So designers are sitting up and taking note. They’re thinking it’s time to cash in.”
When a different report on President Obama’s swimsuit photo on the cover of Washingtonian magazine was erroneously played, Chetry joked, “Now, Alina just apparently wanted to see the president shirtless because that was not the piece that we’re doing right now. We will be doing that later.... Style icons, both of them in the White House.” After using her “muse” label for Mrs. Obama, Cho reused the “style icon” term and played two clips from Essence magazine’s Mikki Taylor, who similarly gushed over the first lady: “She’s just so for real, you know? There’s no pretense. There’s no distance between her and between real women.”
Cho devoted the rest of the report to the fashion industry’s apparently enthusiastic response to the first lady. When designer Elie Tahari commented that Mrs. Obama “has got great arms,” the correspondent replied, “Ah, those famous arms. The reason why the Michelle dress is one shoulder, in plum and floral, a not so subtle homage to Mrs. Obama.” Cho later continued by expanding outside the fashion domain: “And it’s not just fashion. There’s a first lady lip gloss, a gym class called ‘Michelle Obama Defined Arms,’ and Michelle Style -- the book.”
At the end of the segment, Cho and Chetry were aglow over the first lady’s fashion sense:
CHO: Yes, it would, and Elie Tahari has been in the business for 35 years. Now Tahari says he’s going one step further, actually. He’s designing his clothes with a little more give in the hip. The cut is a little more generous now, and that is something that is being inspired by the first lady, and it’s something every woman in America -- in fact, every woman in the world, Kiran, can appreciate.
CHETRY: Yeah. It’s very, very interesting the whole notion that, I mean, we’ve seen first ladies and first ladies’ styles be admired. But it’s almost that it’s accessible now. I love that --
CHO: And in fact --
CHETRY: Look, for example, the J. Crew --
CHO: That’s right.
CHETRY: Cardigan -- you’re wearing it. That’s a Michelle Obama.
CHO: That’s right.
CHETRY: I wear it too.
CHETRY: And so do a lot of people that say, you know what, before, I was never going to buy an Oscar de la Renta.
CHO: That’s right and there’s an interesting point about that, because a lot of designers were inspired by Jackie O.
CHO: But what they say is that Jackie O’s style was inaccessible to most of America.
CHO: Michelle Obama is different and that she’s like most of us, fashion insiders say. She likes to mix and match, high and low, and who doesn't like that?
CHETRY: Exactly. Exactly. No one can spend $2,000 on a pill box hat these days.
CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.