Orange Is In, But Don't Tell Schools Chief 

It's no fashion secret that orange is the hot color for spring 2009 — but not if you're Richmond Schools Superintendent Yvonne Brandon.

She told the School Board at a special budget work session March 7 that she takes umbrage at burnt umber, repudiating not only upstart board members seeking a line-item version of the 2009-'10 budget but also such international fashion design luminaries as Michael Kors and Derek Lam.

“By no means do I look well in orange jumpsuits — and I refuse to put on one,” Brandon told the School Board. She was apparently responding to an earlier comment by its chairwoman, Chandra Smith, who suggested that members asking for greater budget transparency were indirectly accusing the administration of breaking federal law by holding back information.

Too bad. The international fashion media is agog with orange.

San Francisco-based In Style magazine calls “those who wear orange … extroverted, adventurous and expansive,” suggesting that “Nothing looks better against a great summer beach tan than these cheerful happy colors.”

That runs counter to the fashion advice of Smith:

“It's actually a federal violation to do what you're referring to,” Smith told the board members, who include Vice Chairwoman Kim Gray, finance committee chair Dawn Page, Norma Murdoch-Kitt and Adria Graham Scott. Were those asking for more information saying schools administrators had broken the law? Were they suggesting Brandon might do well in a mango, tangerine or rockmelon?

Tell it to the London Daily Mail, which called orange a fashion statement that's “extremely welcome after a grim winter.”

Or tell it to Gray, who says she's not in the business of passing out fashion advice.

“I fully trust Dr. Brandon and [budget director Lynn] Bragga,” Gray says, citing the advice of President Ronald Reagan, who presided over the country when orange last found friends on the fashion scene: “Trust but verify.”

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