First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied her husband on the first presidential visit to Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. As usual, the First Lady represented the U.S.A. with style and grace.
When they disembarked from Air Force One, Michelle Obama wore a Carolina Herrera floral print. The Hollywood Reporter reminded its readers that both Nancy Reagan and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wore Carolina Herrera dresses, and that Mrs. Obama wore a Carolina Herrera dress when she met Pope Francis. Carolina Herrera is a Venezuelan-born fashion designer, who has been a naturalized United States citizen since 2009.
As the New York Times has pointed out, Mrs. Obama uses fashion as a subtle, diplomatic gesture. She wore a gown by Taiwanese-Canadian designer Jason Wu to a state dinner for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada. Japanese-American Tadashi Shoji designed her outfit for the Japanese state dinner. Chinese-American designer Vera Wang has made several of the First Lady’s gowns, including the one she wore to the Chinese state dinner. And Naeem Khan, an Indian-American, designed her dress for the Indian state dinner. Therefore, many people expected her to wear clothing made by Cuban-American fashion designers during this historic trip to Cuba, perhaps New Jersey-born Cuban-American Narciso Rodriguez or Cuban-born Isabel Toledo. She’s worn clothing by both of them before. Therefore, it was a surprise when she wore a dress by Naeem Khan to the state dinner with Cuban President Raúl Castro.
At the state dinner with Raúl Castro (Fidel Castro’s younger brother), Hollywood Reporter described her Naeem Khan dress.
“The First Lady was the best-dressed diplomat in the garden, looking lovely in a number that was both cocktail-ready and chic. Clashing with the foliage is obviously a major faux pas, so Michelle chose a knee-length number by Naeem Khan with pops of red, pink and orange florals, which matched the lush, green Cuban landscape. Even her patent liquid heels blended seamlessly with the wet black stone tiles — an intentional move, we’re sure.”
However, some people complained that her dresses, a Naeem Khan cocktail dress according to the New York Times, and a Carolina Herrera frock, cost 23 times the average annual salary for an ordinary Cuban citizen. As of 2014, the average worker’s salary in Cuba was only $288 per year. The Carolina Herrera dress costs $2,190; a similar Naeem Khan dress to the one Mrs. Obama wore costs $4,490. For an American worker working full time at minimum wage (40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, at $7.50 an hour) the Naeem Khan dress alone would cost just over a third of a year’s pay. According to the Census Bureau in September 2014, the median household income in the U.S. was $51,939, over 180 times the average annual Cuban salary.
At the baseball game between the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Cuban National Baseball Team, Mrs. Obama wore a Tory Burch sundress. Tory Burch is an American designer, born in Valley Forge, PA.
Leaving Cuba to go on to Argentina, Michelle Obama wore a purple Narciso Rodriguez dress, according to People. The dress was a classic A-line cut, one of her favorite styles, with an amber ring that ran from her shoulder to her hip as trim. Hollywood Reporter mentioned that she’s worn Narciso Rodriguez designs before, including at this year’s State of the Union address.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]