Image via Flickr user Studio08 Denver / Creative Commons
Mrs. O's patronage of under the radar American designers, many of them up and coming, some established but lesser well known, is becoming a hallmark of her style. After she wore a bold crane and floral print dress for the National Prayer Service on January 21, we really began to sit up and take notice of one designer in particular, Tracy Feith. As we noted at the time, Mr. Feith's designs tend to have a maverick quality to them, reflecting his surfer roots.
Even before the National Prayer service dress debuted, the January 2009 issue of Voguementioned Tracy Feith in a shortlist of Mrs. O's designers. Was it foresight only Vogue could have? Or had, perhaps, Mr. Feith dressed Mrs. O in the past?
In fact, the article referred to a bold, yet intricately detailed Tracy Feith dress that Mrs. O wore to a daytime Black Caucus event during the Democratic National Convention in late August 2008 (pictured above). We reached out to Mr. Feith's partner, Susan Winget, to get the scoop on the dress. First spotted at Ikram, and later custom altered for Mrs. O, the design is known as "the Lei Dress". Ms. Winget's description: "the bodice is hand dyed cotton and silk, and trimmed in strips of metallic shot, tea dyed chiffon and cotton batik. The skirt is heavy linen. The peach lace trim at the hem is hand beaded with tiny beads and sequins." Additional images of the dress can be seen here.
We love the striking originality of this dress, which combines an almost graphic, sleeveless silhouette with unusual yet effective combinations of fabric and a thorough attention to detail. Perhaps the designer also had this dress in mind when in January he told U.K. magazine Grazia:
"[Michelle Obama] likes things that are feminine but somewhat adventurous. She's not afraid of those things.'"
In the same interview, Ms. Winget commented on the Tracy Feith dress Mrs. O wore for the National Prayer Service, adding:
"It was a real thrill for us in our little-engine-that-could company to see our First Lady in Tracy's dress and to receive such quick recognition. We are beyond flattered."
Tracy Feith is currently working on a lower-priced collection for Target. Look out for it in early May 2009 when it's expected to debut in stores. With endorsement from both the First Lady and Target, Tracy Feith's name is surely on its way to earning well-merited household status.