Is The Fashion Wearables Love Affair Over? - CATEGORY Prime News: TITLE

NEW YORK • Last Wednesday, when Mrs Hillary Clinton stood in the New Yorker Hotel for her farewell speech, she did so in one of her signature Ralph Lauren pantsuits. Dark grey, with purple lapels and a matching purple shirt, it underscored, as so many of her fashion choices did in the run-up to the election, a point: the way two colours/ factions - red and blue - can unite to make something new.

But it also symbolised, perhaps, the end of what might have been an extraordinary relationship. And possibly the end of fashion's seat at the power table.

More than any other industry, fashion had pledged its troth to Mrs Clinton. Vogue magazine formally endorsed her, the first time it had taken a public stand in a presidential election. W magazine editor Stefano Tonchi declared his allegiance in an editor's letter.

Diane von Furstenberg, designer and chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and artistic director of Conde Nast, had aggressively raised funds for her during fashion weeks and beyond: The week before election day, they chaired a fund-raiser in Washington at the Georgetown home of Ms Connie Milstein, a major Democratic donor.

Neither Mrs Trump's wardrobe nor that of the rest of the family has been used in the traditional way to telegraph the virtues of Made in America - though that has been one of Mr Donald Trump's most vociferously promoted platforms.

Designers including Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs and Prabal Gurung created "Made for History" merchandise for Mrs Clinton's campaign store and contributed to a runway show/benefit during September's New York Fashion Week.

Ralph Lauren became Mrs Clinton's de facto sartorial consigliere, helping her shape her image from the Democratic National Convention to the debate floor.

It was to be the culmination of a relationship that began with Mrs Clinton's appearance on the cover of Vogue in December 1998, the first time that a first lady had done so.

The relationship gained momentum through the Obama administration, with Mrs Michelle Obama's embrace of the fashion world writ large, from accessible brands such as J. Crew to young designers such as Jason Wu and Christian Siriano and established names such as Michael Kors and Vera Wang. (Mrs Obama also appeared on the cover of Vogue, in March 2009 and April 2013.)

In understanding how she could use fashion to "express ideas" - as Joseph Altuzarra, who made clothes for Mrs Obama and contributed a T-shirt to Made for History, said - Mrs Obama elevated the industry beyond the superficial to the substantive. She framed clothing as a collection of values: diversity, creativity, entrepreneurship.

Mrs Clinton seemed primed to continue that trend.

The Trumps, however, may not.

As their Washington revolution dawns, designers are assuming, Altuzarra said, that the main players "will have a different relationship to clothes" than fashion has come to expect from the White House.

It was striking that on election night, for example, while Mrs Melania Trump also wore Ralph Lauren (a white jumpsuit), the outfit was, according to the brand, one she had bought off the rack, as opposed to one she had worked with the designer to create.



US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump applauding supporters after his campaign speech at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado, on Oct 3, 2016. Related Story

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