Islandista Jeneil Williams has been making some serious moves in the world of fashion recently. Besides being in the now-legendary all-black edition of Italian Vogue last summer (along with fellow islandistas Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn and Arlenis Sosa) and being the face of the campaign for the Bluetooth ‘Jawbone’, she tore up New York Fashion Week, opening three shows and walking in several others.
She opened for Diesel, Zero + Maria Cornejo (a favourite of US First Lady Michelle Obama) and Richard Chai.
She also walked for Elise Overland, Vena Cava, Ideen, Juan Carlos Obando, Don de Verb and the Project Runway finals, which is always a major NYFW event.
In other news (sorta) people are getting all hysterical because Michelle Obama has (gasp!) been wearing sleeveless dresses. She wore a gorgeous deep purple Narciso Rodriguez dress for her husband’s first address to Congress which prompted several hissy fits among fashion arbiters who deemed it ‘inappropriate’ for the occasion. Huh?
They became even more hysterical when the First Lady followed that up with a series of other sleeveless looks in short order, including a White House concert for Stevie Wonder, a People Magazine cover and a White House dinner.
Then she really flipped them the bird when she wore a sleeveless black Michael Kors shift for her official White House portrait photo. Quelle horreur!
Her friend, White House social secretary Desiree Rogers even had to wade into the debate, telling the Washington Post that Mrs. Obama’s feeling on it is:
If I want to wear no sleeves to hear my husband speak, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Wha, alright then – damn right!
This debate is frankly ridiculous to me. None of the tut-tutters can pinpoint exactly what is so scandalous and inappropriate about Michelle’s bare arms. Have arms become an erogenous zone? Not unless we are in Taliban-era Afghanistan. Some have muttered about it still being winter but she’s been wearing the outfits INSIDE! It’s not like she’s out shovelling snow in a shift dress.
This is really pissing me off because I could easily see this being a debate in the Caribbean, where despite our penchant for Carnival and dancehall bashment outfits, we are also deeply conservative about dress. Workplaces in the Caribbean that allow people to wear sleeveless outfits are probably the exception, not the rule, despite the fact that we live in a TROPICAL CLIMATE all.year.round! When it’s 32 degrees celcius outside in August, wearing a shift should not be a matter for HR to get their knickers in knot about – it’s not even a damn fashion statement then, it’s just practical!
Whew. Had to get that rant out there.
However, amidst the ridiculousness, she’s also had her defenders, including Letitia Baldridge, social secretary to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy (who also had a thing for sleeveless dresses) and Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey who succintly pointed out that critics are no doubt somewhat envious that Michelle can pull off the bare arms look so elegantly. Shoot, I’m about half her age and I’m a bit envious – my arms don’t look like the First Lady’s. But I ent gine hate. In fact, I am rooting for Michelle’s bare arms statement – if the First Lady of the United States can get people to get over their phobia of bare arms, maybe the time will come when I won’t have to swelter in a jacket or long-sleeved shirt in August and September.