January 21, 2009 in Nation/World

First lady with fashion flair

Michelle Obama’s attire a fresh mix of tradition, modern style
By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance together at the Obama Home States Inaugural Ball in Washington on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – First lady Michelle Obama celebrated her husband’s inauguration Tuesday night wearing a white chiffon, one-shoulder gown covered in fluffy appliques and beading that will now become part of fashion history.

Designed by 26-year-old Jason Wu, much loved in the fashion world but otherwise not well known, the gathered-skirt gown was surprising for its reserve given Michelle Obama’s love of jewel tones and sleek silhouettes. Yet it was unconventional, too, exposing her much-remarked-upon, well-toned arms.

The gown will be donated to the Smithsonian, according to tradition, the first lady’s spokeswoman said.

The fashion industry has anxiously looked to the election of Obama for months, embracing his wife as an emblem and ambassador of modern style, who wears clothes from young designers as well as mainstream American retailers.

Earlier in the day, Michelle Obama won applause from style-watchers for the sparkling yellow sheath dress with matching coat by Cuban-born American designer Isabel Toledo that she wore to the swearing-in and parade.

“It was a classic choice and pitch-perfect for the occasion,” said Nicole Phelps, executive editor of the online fashion bible, style.com. “But leave it to Mrs. Obama to mix it up a bit – did you see those teal green pumps?”

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