Michelle Obama chose up-and-coming designer Jason Wu for her inaugural ball gown, a striking choice that will surely titillate the fashion world and shock some of the mainstream's sensibilities. Already establishing a keen eye for the unusual (her morning number was by Isabelle Toledo, another up-and-comer), Obama was credited with "launching" Wu's career when she wore his black-and-white silk number for her Barbara Walters interview.
(Left, Wu's Spring '09 shift, which retails for $3,150, was worn by Obama during her Barbara Walters interview. Photo Credit: Style.com)
Wu, whose line has been picked up for spring by high-end retailers like Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, once interned for another Obama fave, Narcisco Rodriguez, who designed Obama's controversial election night outfit.
But when asked by the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago if he was even in the running for the inaugural gown, Wu replied "that's a long shot."
The Taipei-born designer obviously beat the odds tonight.
The one-shouldered number Obama donned tonight showcased a major trend for Spring 2009, the one-shoulder, and also featured a modern color, off-white. The dress, which we can't actually find anywhere online yet (except, at left, in the photo we stole from Access Hollywood.com)
It's an interesting choice - white in the winter, but that's not so much bothersome. The applique (a bit Rebecca Taylor-esque), ruched bodice, and what appears to be sparkly embroidery dress up the outfit and prevent it from looking too much like a wedding gown. It is, however, a bit on the fuffy side for a first lady.
While it's a strong showing of Spring 2009 trend (one shouldered, specifically), our biggest concern with the dress is that it won't stand up to history. Sitting alongside the others in the Smithsonian, it may end up looking very dated in several years - but only time will tell.
Although Wu studied at Parsons, we're not quite sure he qualifies as an "American" designer, as he wasn't born here. Then again, Toledo, her morning choice, was born in Cuba, so she's bending the "rules" a bit. However, both dresses display a strong style sensiblity and an insider bent that will surely make the fashion world stand up and take notice - those who haven't already, that is.
One thing that must be said, however, is that Obama looks radiant - she's a beautiful woman with a lovely shape and the dress offsets her strong shoulders, glowing skin, and lovely form. Her husband, in a custom-made tuxedo, matched in choice of bow tie (silver, or off white - we can't tell )... and obviously tugged at the heartstrings of the women in the audiece when the first words out of his mouth were "Doesn't my wife look beautiful tonight?"
Want to know how to get a similar look? We find it ironic that among our suggested picks for the evening in a recent Washingtonian.com article was this very similar number by Marc Bouvier Glammit, available at Neiman Marcus for $895.