Dressed by Gaga's stylist

Up-and-coming American designer Brandon Maxwell is the person behind the outfit worn by Mrs Michelle Obama

United States First Lady Michelle Obama with Ms Ho Ching, wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, before the White House state dinner on Tuesday.
United States First Lady Michelle Obama with Ms Ho Ching, wife of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, before the White House state dinner on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Brandon Maxwell.

NEW YORK • Continuing her efforts to fast- track the careers of young United States designers on the global stage, Mrs Michelle Obama wore a gown by Brandon Maxwell, perhaps the newest and most up-and-coming of the names she has worn so far, to the White House state dinner for Singapore on Tuesday night.

It was the first time the First Lady had worn Maxwell, who is such an up-and-coming designer that he has not yet achieved full-brand status.

What he is, however, is Lady Gaga's stylist and the man who made the widely praised jumpsuit she wore to the Oscars.

Interestingly, Mrs Obama's gown - strapless, white crepe, with Art Deco folds at the neck and sides - was not unlike the rock star's red-carpet look, which was also white and strapless with folds, though its voluminous Old Hollywood skirt turned out to be - surprise - pants.

Maxwell, 31, was also a 2016 finalist for the LVMH Prize for young fashion designers, the most coveted and largest of the new designer bursaries, as well as the winner of the Swarovski award for womenswear at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Fashion Awards in June, where he gave perhaps the most moving speech of the night.

"I was very gay in a very small town and all I had were the women in my life who let me dress them up and put clothes on them," he said.

"It gave me meaning," he added, admitting that he was so new to the scene (he held his first show in September last year), that he was not even a member of the council - although he became one that month.

Maxwell learnt that the First Lady had worn his dress to the state dinner when he was in Austria with Swarovski as part of the award.

He posted a photo on Instagram with the comment: "A very proud moment for me and my team."

It was also, it must be said, a very effective moment for reaching a new audience and increasing his name recognition.

Mrs Obama's choice of Maxwell on Tuesday follows her decision to wear a dress by another young designer who is relatively new to her public wardrobe: Christian Siriano, whose blue frock made a palpable splash at the Democratic National Convention as supporting actor to her powerful speech.

It also continues the surprising cross-party theme of white dressing, after Mrs Melania Trump and Mrs Hillary Clinton's at the conventions.

It could be happenstance, but you know what they say: Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend. Especially three times in three weeks.

We have trend, people. At least until Labour Day.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Dressed by Gaga's stylist'. Print Edition | Subscribe