Designers enjoyed an almost unprecedented golden age with Michelle Obama, who used her garments to convey the importance of the American industry and young talents who are giving it new life. Obama helped elevate many up-and-coming designers in the public's consciousness. Like Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung and Theallet, they were diverse, with backgrounds and lineages from all over the world.
While Clinton most likely wouldn't have had the same type of selling power as Obama, who could clear a skirt and sweater set from the shelves of J. Crew as fast as Kate Middleton, she would have continued to champion American designers. That support is a main reason why most fashion industry types publicly endorsed Clinton and helped throw elaborate fundraisers in her honor.
Following her loss, the community has been faced with a question: Will they work with the Trumps? But as some have noted, it's more of an academic exercise: Their answers will likely have little bearing on policy or Trump's agenda — unless Trump takes offense to a perceived snub and turns to his favorite form of pushback: a Twitter tirade.
Like most aspects of the first lady's office, there are no rules regarding wardrobe. Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan had favorite designers who acted like in-house couturiers. Oscar de la Renta, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, was a de facto choice for both Bushes, Barbara and Laura, and Clinton during her time in the White House.
But a first lady doesn't need to be dressed by a designer — it's largely based on tradition, and is similar to the relationship between designers and actresses.
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Designers and fashion houses almost always loan dresses to stars they want seen wearing their creations. Red-carpet watchers know that Ford is notoriously picky with his loaners; there's typically only one or two Ford creations at the Oscars.
Wearing one of Ford's gowns has become such a coveted honor that Hayden Panettiere went rogue and bought one to wear to the Golden Globes in 2014. A mini-frenzy ensued.
So it's not out of character for Ford, who is focusing more of his time on producing films than dressing stars, to say he doesn't foresee taking a call from Melania. And it doesn't seem out of character for Melania, the wife of a billionaire, to say: "Who needs you people? I'll walk to Bergdorf's and buy whatever I want."
But think of the frenzy that could ensue if she walks into the first Inaugural Ball in an off-the-rack Ford or Theallet gown.