It was a story that seemed implausible the moment you first heard it: a major international lingerie brand was selling a new bra-and-panty set that was supposedly inspired by and named for Michelle Obama.
The story made the rounds late last month after a U.S. lingerie store reported that the ‘First Lady’ bra in the Summer 2015 collection from PrimaDonna was “inspired by [Mrs. Obama’s] sense of elegance and fashion.” American news outlets jumped on that tidbit, leading to a rash of headlines proclaiming “the first FLOTUS lingerie” and brisk sales for PrimaDonna‘s new bra style.
Unfortunately, it’s just not true — and PrimaDonna wants to clear up the confusion.
“The inspiration of our PrimaDonna Summer 2015 collection was a summer weekend, during which an elegant woman is preparing herself for a chic evening out. Therefore the series carries elegant and refined names like ‘Gracious’, ‘First Lady’ and ‘Soirée’,” Evelyn Verstraeten, Global PR Manager for the premium Belgian brand, told Lingerie Talk today.
“The ‘First Lady’ series is not named after one president’s wife in particular, although we do believe its vibrant colors, luxury fabrics and subtle embroidered flowers would look gorgeous on some of those classy ladies.”
The suggestion that the Van De Velde brand might be piggybacking on the U.S. first lady’s renowned fashion influence appears to have started in January when the owner of Washington’s Coup de Foudre lingerie store told a reporter that a bra “inspired by Michelle Obama” was “flying off the shelves.”
“We tweeted that this collection was ‘inspired’ by the First Lady and the press got ahold of it and went crazy,” Coup de Foudre owner Kiersten Ballman told Lingerie Talk.
She said the Obama connection was mentioned by the brand’s sales rep, and that she had seen similar references on other retail sites.
“I actually told [reporters] that Michelle Obama most probably doesn’t own this bra and has absolutely no connection to the bra, other than possibly being the inspiration of a designer in Belgium. … I thought that the First Lady was referring to an opera singer.”
The issue is a ticklish one, since the White House frowns on any commercial exploitation of the presidential name. Three years ago, several UK media outlets printed retractions after falsely reporting that Michelle Obama bought $50,000 worth of sexy lingerie from New York’s Agent Provocateur store.
Mrs. Obama has had a huge impact on fashion since entering the White House, and has helped make household names of designers like Jason Wu, Thakoon, Isabel Toledo and many more. However, it’s well known that she pays for her own clothes and, while she occasionally speaks openly about her favorite designers, she is loathe to be seen endorsing brands.
For the record, the ‘First Lady’ line from PrimaDonna probably didn’t need the extra attention in the first place. It’s a gorgeous set featuring variegated embroidery to create a tattoo effect and comes in both an electric blue shade called Barcelona and a pale fuschia called Cosmetic. The ‘First Lady’ range includes three bra styles, four briefs, a bodysuit and a dress.