Michelle Obama has recharged power dressing, from contemporary off-the-rack American to European pop. Now the first family is updating the White House art collection. This is significant: Michelle exercising her right to bare arms says much less than W’s cowboy fancy.
(Picture: Flag by Jasper Johns)
How very elegant is Mrs O in repose?
I never thought I would be saying this about an outfit that involved a peach twin-set, but hey I am a total fan.
And here is André Leon Talley interview that goes with the Annie Liebowitz Vogue cover shoot. (As a total aside is there no other photographer in the celeb portraiture line these days?)
So was Jason Wu Michelle’s Fairy God Mother, or is she his?
Wu did not know that she had chosen his dress until he saw Michelle in it at the Neighborhood Ball. The ball gown certainly had elements of the classic fairy tale ball gown – it was made of ivory silk chiffon, embellished with organza and Swarovski crystal rhinestones and silver thread embroidery. “It’s thrilling. … For a young designer, I couldn’t ask for any more than this,” said Wu.
Michelle Obama’s aides asked for the dress in December. “It’s about hope. It’s about newness,” he said. “It’s all a little dreamlike, and we’re making history, and I wanted to really reflect that.”
I think the ball gown worked she looked lovely almost ethereal and fresh. The single shoulder effect was a nod to contemporary fashion but the overall effect was classic.
The debate about the Isabel Toledo inauguration outfit still rages however – “Is she walking around in inaugural upholstery?” asked a former editor of Glamour magazine, Bonnie Fuller.
Whilst the New York Times argued both Michelle Obama and Aretha Franklin played to the crowd with their choice of outfits “There was a huge element of stage value in their clothes, but also a kind of graciousness. Both women were dressing to please the crowd.”
One thing is clear – this first lady is not afraid of clothes and is prepared to use fashion for all its power to signify.
See the first dance : Embedded video from CNN Video
Simon has also alerted me to the glories of Mrs O a thinly veiled reference to Jackie O and the obsession with first lady style. The Mrs O blog is a total Michelle Obama love fest . The latest post is how to get you hands on the Target dress in order to reference that famous moment early on in the campaign where Mrs O’s dress launched a thousand votes at least and many many copy cats.
Everyone is weighing in on the first lady elect’s dress nous – The Slate say’s whatever you do – do not do Jackie O, whilst also analysing the very, very profitable marketing side effects of a black first lady .
I thought this Gawker article makes for fascinating reading – its an anaylisis of what an Obama presidency will mean for the fashionable industries.
Here is their sniping on the Fashion industry…
” Fashionista types are so in the tank. The promise of Obama even lured Anna Wintour out of her Batcave to vote! So where does the huge industry trade group the American Apparel and Footwear Association stand on the issues? Well, they’re against anything that makes unions stronger, obviously. Not good. They’re very upset about China’s domination of the textile manufacturing sector. Obama will presumably push China on some issues, but he’s far from a protectionist. And they don’t want to have to compete with Federal Prisoners for government contracts. When Obama frees the oppressed, that won’t be a problem. Huzzah! ”
The big red arrow points to the infamous Wintour bob and sunglass routine – it works in a voting queue almost as well as the front row. What they have not considered are the positive spinoffs in terms of replicating Michelle Obama’s first lady dress sense.
You can probably tell I am over the moon – so here are two great links to The Times about the newly minted first lady’s impecable style credentials – Carla Bruni – be scared.
Plus a few words of advice for all wannabe power dressers
RULES OF THE REAL POWER DRESSING by Shane Watson….
* Be smart, without being flashy or ostentatious. The epitome of old-style power dressing is Ivana Trump — all hair, cleavage and money. Real power dressing plays down all of the above.
* Look chic, but never stiff or elitist. Anna Wintour has impeccable power-dressing credentials, but in a deluxe, label-conscious way — the new power dressing is less formal, less high-maintenance and barely bothers with designer labels.
* Keep it stylish, but don’t let your fashion agenda dominate. Rachida Dati, the French justice minister, takes a good photograph, but her flashbulb-friendly brand of glamour is a distraction that tends to end up being the story. Real power dressing is about standing out from the crowd, but always in a manner that regular women can relate and aspire to. Sarah Brown, for example, does not qualify as a role model because she still looks way too ordinary (and as though she’s been forced into it at gunpoint).
* Real power dressing is about being smart and true to yourself, and the balance between the two is what makes it new. Work out what suits you, and don’t deviate.
* Keep the lines simple, then add accessories. With jewellery, keep it bold and simple, not fussy — see Obama’s signature oversize pearls. Update the look with belts and shoes and bags.
* Don’t get trapped in standard black, navy and red. Prints and strong colours look fresher and less conservative.
* Avoid fussy details like bows, and too much flesh on show
And if I can add my own bugbear – avoid the ever prevalent and highly uninspired pant suit – its boring, not powerful.
See also : The Truth about Palin’s wardrobe expenses
and Mrs O – Michelle Obama Love Fest
I just have to comment on the fact that $150 000 spent on making Sarah Palin a sartoriallly believable candidate – never mind her extended family – pales in comparison to the excesses of Cindy McCain - who spent twice that on one outfit.
I for one am not the friend of Sarah Palin’s working girl look – then again I am not running for vice president. Apparently though this is one style makeover that wasn’t – all she has done is up the designer label ante, so instead of shopping at Target ( like Michelle Obama briefly ) she has taken to some pretty traditional Washington old school options – like Oscar De La Renta and Escada. Peculiarly it is also one makeover that is not having the requisite uplifting effect – political pundits are saying that the average working class bloke her folksy yet super sexy mumsy was meant to appeal to, has been put off by her designer excess. So much the better I say – Obama’s my homeboy.
Here’s a great analysis of the makeover that wasn’t.
I quite liked what Cindi Leive editor on chief of Glamour magazine had to say “My first reaction when I heard about this was, ‘Honey, I could have dressed you for a lot less than that. If you asked me to figure out where the $150,000 went, I’m not sure I could tell you.”
Project Runway’s Nina Garcia weighed in yesterday to People magazine on the relative merits of the style choices of the first ladies in waiting.
“[McCain] is Oscar de la Renta. [She's] all about bold colors and she’s all about diamonds and pearls and blondeness.”
On the other ticket, “[Obama] is Miss Jackie O. — ’50s, early ’60s,” .
I’ll just come out and say it – I would much prefer to see Michelle Obama’s kit anyday. I found the fact that Cindy McCain had no qualms in wearing a $300 000 dollar outfit ( pictured) to the Republican convention – (that is R2.4 million in our sad little currency) is a little garish to say the least. Read More…
I just received my September Vanity Fair issue in the post. Its probably one of the nicest gifts I have ever been given. The subscription to my monthly dose of gossip presented in witty, well written packaging is a delight. That is when it arrives given the vagaries of the SA postal service. Read More…