Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images
With the Obamas scheduled to touch down in London this evening, the eyes of the world are clearly on the outcome of the G20. Yet amidst heated political speculation, Europe’s press are nevertheless finding time to ask, alongside just about every fashionista on the planet: What will Mrs. O be wearing?
Mrs. O has been a huge hit with the European fashion press. Her fashion-forward approach, her willingness to take risks with her style and her eagerness to embrace designers outside the mainstream have all been lauded by the critics. It's an mark of her extraordinary impact that designers like Maria Pinto, Thakoon, Jason Wu and Maria Cornejo who are not widely available in Europe are nevertheless regularly featured in the style press as faces to watch. Yet if coverage of her Inaugural wardrobe is any barometer, her every G20 ensemble will go far beyond the fashion pages to make front page news around the world.
Commentators usually more at home with foreign policy than frocks will be on the hunt for the “message” implicit in Mrs. O’s style choices. The major UK broadsheets have certainly found time, amidst policy analysis, to ponder the implications of the First Lady’s wardrobe. Among the other logistical hurdles posed by a Presidential visit, The Telegraph noted the challenge of packing “for a first lady who is also an international style icon,” while Rupert Cornwell writing in The Independent observes Mrs. O’s emergence as an international megastar:
"Two months into her husband's term, Michelle is a superstar in her own right. Her every appearance is a major news event; her every move is tracked by an army of bloggers. Her fashions, her hairdos, not to mention her choice of presidential pet, command headlines worthy of Jackie in Camelot's heyday."
Anticipation is further heightened by the fact that Mrs. O will not be the only political spouse on the international stage this week. Fashion journalists are feverishly anticipating the first meeting between Michelle Obama and France’s Premiere Dame, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. While Madame Sarkozy will not be attending the G20, the ladies are scheduled to meet at a European summit on Saturday in what will almost certainly be a meeting of fashion minds. Avid First Lady watchers will remember Carla’s first state visit to Britain, in which the former supermodel dazzled in classic Dior. Ms. Bruni aside, the world’s most influential political spouses will descend en masse on the UK this week but there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Mrs. O’s star is shining brightest. To quote The Independent once more:
“The most important person on Mrs. Brown's guest list will be Michelle Obama, the "First Lady of First Ladies." Mrs. O has already scored a diplomatic triumph by securing a personal meeting with the Queen. On Wednesday afternoon – so long as the anarchists haven't forced the Royal Family into hiding – the world's most powerful couple will meet Prince Charles and Camilla before taking tea with Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace. Everyone else will have to content themselves with a brief handshake at an official reception.”
So once again, the eyes of the world are on Mrs. O’s wardrobe, yet we have no doubt she will pull off yet another fashion coup. With her sense of occasion, her eye for detail and her abilty to use her clothing to make subtle personal statements Mrs. O has mastered the fine art of fashion diplomacy. When Mrs. O met HRH will undoubtedly be one of the fashion moments of 2009. Update: Mrs. O wears a Thakoon custom ivory tulle tweed coat with grosgrain piping. For additional photos, click here (thanks Edwina).