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WHITE HOUSE ABSENTIA: First Lady Michelle Obama, quoting Miles Davis, summed up her feeling about national design on Wednesday, while inadvertently giving a potential reason why Rodarte’s designers did not show up for a White House ceremony in their honor. “The great jazz musician Miles Davis — one of my husband’s favorites — once said, ‘Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there,’” said Obama. “I think that is pretty much a good description of what each of you does every day: You’re playing what’s not there.”
Rodarte’s Kate and Laura Mulleavy, winners of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards fashion design category, were no-shows at the ceremony hosted by Obama, which also paid tribute to other design fields and winners who were able to attend. A spokesman for the Mulleavys, who launched their fashion line in 2005, sent an early-morning e-mail that said the designers “had a change of plans” and could not come to the event. The spokesman later added the sisters “had a family obligation to attend to in Los Angeles” as way of further explanation but did not provide details.
Meanwhile, Obama told the audience that designers have “spent their lives pushing boundaries,” adding “we know a little about boundary pushing.” Obama has pushed a few boundaries herself with her sartorial choices since her husband, Barack Obama, became the first African-American to become president in 2008. Once again she gave a nod to American fashion designers Wednesday, donning a flowing, dark pink two-piece Isabel Toledo ensemble adorned with an oversize embellished pin.