The question on everyone’s minds tonight is not how President Obama is going to solve the economic crisis or end the war(s) on foreign soil, or even spend his first day in office. Nope. It’s: What on earth is Michelle Obama going to wear to the 587 Inaugural Balls she has to attend tonight? And in jewelry hound circles: How much bling does she dare wear in these troubled times?
The answers are all here, my friends, (to channel our old pal, John McCain). The Divine Mrs. O chose a ‘safe’, white, off-one-shoulder gown by 26-year-old designer, Jason Wu. According to Wu’s website, the Taipei native moved to Vancouver when Wu was 9, where he began learning how to sew. He enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design years later and interned with Narciso Rodriguez, who designed our First Lady’s Election Night frock and her camel suit for the ‘We Are One’ concert on Sunday.
Celebrity stylist, Robert Verdi, already weighed in on the choice on CNN earlier, lamenting that Obama played it a bit safe. And he rightly pointed out that Nancy Reagan wore a similar silhouette ‘lo those many years ago. “Been there done that”, doesn’t really feel like an appropriate criticism today, though, Robert – especially when our first lady has arm tone that would make the likes of Madonna jealous.
No word yet on who designed the bling – and whether or not the baubles are on loan or are now permanent fixtures in the White House – but it’s clear Obama isn’t holding back on the shimmer factor tonight. A thick diamond cuff added sparkle to her wrist, and shoulder-length diamond drop earrings dangled in the light as she and our President ‘danced’ to a serenade from the ubiquitous Beyonce.
The song, At Last, sums up the day better than I ever could.
Like a beaming ray of sunshine, Michelle Obama officially began her own era as a style icon at this morning’s historic Inauguration ceremony. Appearing in a stunning gold sheath dress from Cuban-born designer, Isabel Toledo, Mrs. Obama made a glittering statement that was both conservative and fashion forward.
Her diamond-brooched neckline was the only sparkle to be found at the traditionally buttoned-up affair, and while many might interpret the choice as a bit much for such a serious occasion, I say: Shine on, First Lady, shine on!
“What’s so powerful about Michelle Obama is we all see ourselves in her. She’s a modern woman who is fashionable and even flamboyant in her style and she is still taken seriously,” gushed red carpet stylist, Mary Alice Stephenson .
“She’s wearing that dress today for all of us. We’re all wearing that dress with her. The dress is elegant, appropriate and has the individual style stamp of Michelle Obama and is timely for a woman in her 40s — and she wears embellishment during the day. Hallelujah!”
Hallelujah indeed! Two icey diamond studs finished the look in addition to olive gloves by (drumroll….) none other than J Crew! And the adorable Obama daughters appeared in J Crew coats in periwinkle and pink.
And for those of you who want your own version of the inauguration frock, a spring version of the dress – which will retail for around $1,500 – will hit Barney’s in March. Will the dress be a hit or a big miss for the masses? Did you like our First Lady’s colorful choice today, or do you prefer the grey librarian look of Laura Bush? (rhetorical question…sorry). Weigh in!
I’ll be keeping a close eye on ball gown and bling buzz tonight, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I think I’ll glow in what poet, Elizabeth Alexander, so beautifully described as today’s ‘sharp sparkle’.