Ra! Ra! Germany!: Fashion from the Rhine More Prominent Than You'd Think

June 7, 2011


Last night, the first lady surely looked radiant at the state dinner honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel, above. Trying to guess who Michelle Obama would wear made me wonder: What if she chose a German designer? “Wait,” you say, “there are German designers?”

Germany doesn’t have a couture heritage, yet big names hail from the nation. Karl Lagerfeld, the chief designer for Chanel, and Jil Sander, founder of her namesake house, were born in Germany during the Third Reich. Labels such as Etienne Aigner and Escada are based in Munich; for years, their products carried “Made in West Germany” on their labels. Since 2007, Berlin even has its own Fashion Week, just like London, Paris and Milan.

By now, photos of Obama’s gown are out, and it’s likely she wore American. (This column went to print before the White House announced the designer.) But President Obama could have worn a piece by German-born American designer Robert Geller, who won the CFDA’s Swarovski Award for Menswear on Monday. It would have been a sweet nod to Deutschland and its fashionable (American) ties.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Katherine Boyle reports on arts, museums and culture for the Style section.
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