Page last updated at 06:01 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Jury out on First Lady's get-up

Michelle and Barack Obama (with Joe Biden in background) at the US Capitol, 20 January
Michelle Obama's choice of outfit was a closely guarded secret

Michelle Obama's outfit for her husband Barack's inauguration as US president has drawn a mixed reaction from the fashion world.

Her matching yellow-gold dress and coat caused fashion magazine Grazia UK to wonder about "the heavy fabric, the dull colour and the frumpy silhouette".

"Is she walking around in inaugural upholstery?" asked a former editor of Glamour magazine, Bonnie Fuller.

Others preferred to praise her for picking a little-known designer.

Cuban-born designer Isabel Toledo said the colour yellow represented hope and freshness.

"I wanted to capture optimism, I wanted it to feel happy, I wanted it to feel inclusive," she told Reuters news agency.

LA Times fashion critic Booth Moore wrote that Michelle Obama had turned "the page on American design", choosing an ensemble designed not "by one of the aging custodians of the 7th Avenue Establishment" but by "a Cuban-American whom nobody knows but everyone should".

The red and black dress Mrs Obama wore on election night in November also divided opinion.

'Fashion panache'

Grazia style director Paula Reed, who otherwise commended the new First Lady on her "single-minded fashion sense", did not stop at the dress but zoomed in on "the hideous white shiny tights that she first accessorised it with".

Many believe that First-Lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama is set to create a similar storm in the fashion world [to that created by Jacqueline Kennedy]
Rajini Vaidyanathan
BBC News, Washington

"We have been wondering all afternoon, on whose friendly advice and when did she decide to ditch?" she wrote.

"Were they ditched in the loo or a secret service agent's glove compartment after a desperate text message from a stylish friend?"

Remarking that she "looked way better with bare legs", Reed did find favour in "her chic Jimmy Choo 'Glacier' pumps".

Barack and Michelle Obama, 20 January
Mrs Obama later changed into a white gown designed by Jason Wu

Along with the deep green shoes, Mrs Obama wore olive green gloves from the chain store JCrew.

Hamish Bowles, Vogue magazine's European editor-at-large, found the inaugural dress "appropriate, dignified and elegant".

"It also had a considerable element of fashion panache," he told the Associated Press.

Writing on the www.huffingtonpost website, Ms Fuller added that while the merits of the yellow dress were "definitely debatable... what's obvious is that Michelle has made a major statement with her outfit".

"She's not going to be stuffy, she'll remake the rules of First Lady-ness, just as she's remaking the rules of what's acceptable and stunning to wear on inauguration day," the former Glamour editor wrote.

Print Sponsor


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific