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Monday
May182009

O-Mazing! 

Photo by Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images

This is too much for us! Mrs. O made an appearance this evening at the American Ballet Opening Night Spring Gala, wearing a metallic black sleeveless dress. The corseted top and full, sculptural hip (what we can make out of it), appear to have an Elizabethan influence. We are dying to know who made this dress.

Update: The Associated Press reports that Mrs. O's dress is Azzedine Alaia.

An anonymous tipster reveals Mrs. O has owned this Alaia dress for two years, and decided to pull it out of her closet for last night's event. The First Lady accessorized with Loree Rodkin earrings and diamond bangle bracelets, the same worn on election night. We must say, Jill Biden looks equally O-mazing, in a Spring 2009 Reem Acra dress. These are seriously chic Americans.

Photo used with kind permission from our anonymous friend

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Reader Comments (203)

Not good. The fabric holds her stiffly. I feel there were other, more interesting ways than a short dress "to stand out in a sea of long gowns" -- see the always gorgeous Susan Fales-Hill, the daughter of Josephine Premice and a primary supporter of the ABT, in the fourth pic down from Mrs. O, wearing a gown of cream, gold, and brown print. The only other women wearing short dresses there were the college girls. So disappointing, a lost opportunity.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlsace

Should have said that the Susan Fales-Hill pic is in the New York Social Diary pics. http://newyorksocialdiary(dot)com/node/378179

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlsace

both mrs. o & dr. biden look fantastic; jill's dress looks almost exactly like a dress halle berry wore to a movie premier several months ago (can't remember the designer).

as for the so called "michelle effect" effect or lack there of, it seems like common sense to me that nobody could turn around the finances of a fashion label or chain in a single fiscal year, let alone a few months; that's just not how the sales industry operates. sure there are some people who go out and buy some of the mass market stuff she's worn, definitely much more so than they have for any recent first lady; but that's not going to make a dent in the balance sheets or quarterly sales figures of major companies that have been struggling for quite some time, and any suggestion otherwise is wholly unrealistic. Gap Inc. for example is a company that has been on the decline for roughly a decade; yet if Mrs. O decided that she was going to wear nothing but their Banana Republic label starting tomorrow, that still wouldn't turn that company's fortunes around. the effect that she has had on fashion in my mind, is in lifting the profile of certain up and coming designers who most ordinary people hadn't heard of before; that's the kind of exposure that could have long term dividends for a designer struggling in the industry. maybe the fact that Mrs. O loves Jason Wu for example, peaks a mass market company's interest in having him do an affordable line for them, or it helps garner publicity for a show or collection that might otherwise have gone ignored by certain buyers and editors; that's a huge impact on that designer's life and business, but it doesn't mean the whole world suddenly goes out and grabs all of his designs off of store shelves across the country.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered Commentermoja31

I agree with Tay. That lipstick was all kinds of wrong on Mrs. O. Everything else was fab.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermarabout40

WOW! Dr. B looks fantastic! I love how she combines her working life--she is teachiing at a community college this semester--with public appearances where she has been adding a LOT of sparkle! I think short cocktail-length dresses were very apropos when they were there as a "working" evening, not just to socialize as were those women in long gowns. Long is only mandatory for a white tie event; this looked black-tie.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandy Beach

@ moja31, I do think it's the same dress! Both ladies seem to favor Reem Acra.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. T

can you imagine what the First Lady would look like if she tried to please us all with her clothes. It would be a distasteful comic opera. The reason she is such a sensation is that she follows her own taste and who says that you must wear a long gown to an occasion such as this. Change has come and it is amazing not a lost opportunity - at least not in NYC.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterthe other jenna

I'm not surprised that she pulled out this Alaia frock after 2 years. His clothes are so timeless. I just saw a collection of his from the early 90's and another from 2001 the other day. You would never know they were created more than a decade ago. Such a great designer. He doesn't get the accolade he deserves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAri

I like it. It's young & funky compared with some of the other attendees. She certainly knows how to mix it up!
I love the night time flirty bangs. They look great on her.

@POSH T. I pulled up your 'Hattie Carnegie' (Thxs for the link) It's beautiful! I'm a little envious! I also like sparkle. Enjoy and treasure it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnn#1

Oh I'm so glad you got that full length shot Mrs.T! Just beautiful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAri

I was reading this morning where Mrs. O did not spend her time during intermission in the VIP box with Desiree and others that were there. She spent it in the offices of the American Ballet with other folks, I'm sure talking issues and how she can support the arts. So I agree with Sandy Beach that this was a working day and evening for Mrs. O. But even if it was not, my opinion is that she has every right to wear long or short attire, especially if invitations do not specify. It's funny, when I think she'll go short, like the correspondent's dinner, Mrs. O goes long. And when I think she'll go long, like for last night, she goes short. I love that about her. And the fact she's had the dress for years and pulled it out and made it look fresh, hot, and youthful.

...Side note, I failed to mention the one thing I didn't care for was the darkness of the lipstick. I'm sure she was going for drama, but to me made her look a little harsh and less soft. I still stand by loving those fab fake eyelashes---they looked the best to me with the green skirt and sparkled J.Crew cardigan in London. That was probably one of my favorite "makeup" looks for Mrs. O, and the eyelashes had a lot to do with it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJanelle

@Alsace: I can appreciate your disappointment, but why was it a lost opportunity? The FL does not want to be pigeon-holed when it comes to her fashion choices, or anything else for that matter, and it’s refreshing. Her makeup was garishly daring, but she’s allowed to experiment, I suppose. lol

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterjayj

I wasn't sure if I liked the dress yesterday, just by looking at the collar. I feared the bottom would have an Elizabethan full skirt. I just LOVE this dress, it is chic, and smart and perfectly fitted. A beautiful picture!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMocha Dem

I just love the Obamas....and Michelle is just perfect !!!! Perfect taste, intellect, great mother, wife...the list goes on and on....oh yeah I love her in everything she wears...she's awesome...but still has an "everyday" flavor...
May God Bless them!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Now that I see a full length of the dress (sans podium) I have to say I really don't care for it at all. (I'm glad to see that Posh Tater & Alsace have already said that, so I'm not the only one.) That pilgrim collar seems very odd to me, and doesn't seem to work with the natural shoulder line. With all that fabric up top and the short length of the dress, the proportions seem "off" to me. The whole thing looks rather "ill-fitting" and uncomfortable. Adding to that is the appearance that the fabric is stiff and doesn't drape well. The effect is one of not looking relaxed like the others in the photo, but of looking constrained. Love Michelle, as you all know, but this turns out to be a "miss" for me.

I think all the other ladies in the photo look fab. When I look at the group photo and how relaxed all the other ladies look, I want to "free" Michelle from this from this uncomfortable-looking garment. (smile)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillow

I liked this dress from just the half shot of it because it showed her nice shoulders and arms. But, after seeing the full shot, I absolutely love it! She's 40 something?!? No Way!!! Mrs. O looks so young and vibrant... go girl! And I do love the eyelashes... they are not over the top diva-ish but give that flirty look. We do have a jazzy, young, hip first lady and I love her!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterShana

I also had doubts about the dress before I saw the full-length view; now although my first choice would have been a floor-length gown, I really do like this. It fits beautifully, and I'm impressed to learn that she just pulled it out of the closet. (Of course, shopping in her closet is MUCH different from shopping in mine! haha) I don't care for the lipstick color--too harsh. But as someone else said, experimenting is okay.

Dr. Biden looks amazing, as always. I can't remember ever having BOTH first and second ladies who were so fashionable! It's exciting to imagine what the next 4 or 8 (we hope!) years will bring!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMs. G

I love this dress, it's back to a fiftyish Mad Men look again. Her makeup looks great in the group shot but I agree that it's a little harsh close up. Still an overall win for me, on uniqueness points alone.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteredwina

I think MO's make up is good for this event. Keep in mind she's wearing lipstick and false lashes that will come across under a ton of lights, on a huge stage in front of about 3000 people. Her face would have washed out with less. She's not trying to look good across a dinner table. I'm not loving the top of the dress either - everything from the armholes up looks one size small, though I doubt it was - but I love the short skirt and petticoat. That woman has great legs!

I know I will get in trouble with some of you for this, but I think Jill Biden, though she's in fantastic shape, is wearing a dress that is way too young for her. It's a beautiful color on her (and her earrings are great), but the bow, the strapless, the whole look is a bit undignified for me. Just because you can get away with wearing something, doesn't mean you should. (And, if it makes any difference, I am talking as a 62 year old in good shape, who still tries on dresses like this, but comes to her senses before she breaks out the credit card. I wish Dr. B had done the same thing.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterOperaFanatic

Love Dr. Biden's dress! She looks smashing!

I like the petticoat effect on Mrs. O. I think that's what she wore underneath the Alaia dress when she attended the concert in Europe, yes? And at another time as well, although the occasion escapes me at the moment.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermeta

Seriously, Michelle Obama dress reminds me of a nurses dress circa 1960s style. The color of the dress is kind of futurstic chic but it looks odd in the group photo. One thing about Michelle Obama no matter what she wears she will stand out. Personally, I'm on the fence about this dress.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterTia

@OperaFanatic - I see your point about Dr. B's dress. She is a beautiful woman, in great shape, but this style might be too young for her.

The woman I think actually looks best in the picture is Caroline Kennedy. Her look is one of such simple, elegant, comfortable ease. Very relaxed, but very classy. The fabric drapes beautifully (like the garment of a goddess). The color is rich, delicious, flattering.

I guess I like designs that show off the natural human form, and allow the wearer to look comfortably expansive, full and tall. Designs that seem to attempt to re-shape or constrain the human form don't appeal to me. They seem "costumy". (Is that a word?) (smile)

Is the woman on Michelle's left Mrs. Gore? I think she looks great, too. I think gown is very beautiful and flattering -- age and body appropriate.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillow

@Alsace: I think to call MO's clothing choice on this one occasion a "missed opportunity" may be overstating the case (I can understand just not liking the dress, of course -- I like it, but that's just a matter of taste.)

People (including people on this board) damn near lost their minds when Michelle wore an asymmetrical cardigan. So if she chooses to be "first lady demure" -- well, she is the first lady, and to some extent she has to be demure. Her clothes are already starting to overshadow her actions, ($500 sneakers, anyone?) and I doubt in the future she's going to be a champion of serious fashion risk-taking. Tilda Swinton will have to serve in that role.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Willow I totally agree with you on CKS's dress! The color, the fit and the fabric are all amazing. She looks wonderful. I saw a bit of the back and it is va va va voom! She definately hit it out the park on that one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrook

I agree with Willow that CKS looks effortlessly gorgeous. So surprised it took so long for anyone to comment on that.

What I love about Mrs O is that she is willing to take on all kinds of looks. This particular dress doesn't seem to me to photograph well under the lights...something about the shine of the fabric and the tight fit around her bust...doesn't work in the group photo. Standing alone, it would look different. I love the whole look with the slighly bouffant page boy hair, eyelashes, shiny dress and sensational bare legs. Something about it reminded me a bit of the best of the girl groups of the 60's...I hope no one will interpret that as racist. It's meant to be real compliment.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterKathy B

Well this just goes to show how people have such diverse outlooks and opinions, but I actually didn't like CKS's dress. I thought the color was very blah and the cut of the dress was nothing special. However I did love the sheen of Mrs.O's dress and I though the cut and shape were very pretty. It almost reminded me of a glamorous ballet costume at the bottom the way it flared out and the peter pan collar was so unique and special. You can be sure no one there even remotely looked like Mrs.O.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterAri

I happen to think the collar makes the dress and frames Mrs. O's face perfectly. The lipstick looks great, too, as she usually wears lipstick that is too light.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristen

I love this look on FLOTUS, especially in the Huff post video link. Face it wa'll, we are not going to be able to peg Mrs Obama into any one specific style hole. Can we all agree as a whole she is a trendsetter? Note how in one day her attire is described as "first lady demure" to futuristic "star trek". Imagine, so avant-garde with a two year old outfit pulled out of the closet. I also find her makeup is a study in contrast from the daytime look to the evening look.
In the Huff post video there is shown briefly a large group photo of the evening event(like 20 plus people) in it Michelle just pops out from the others. Does anyone know the link for that photo?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterboazwife

EDIT: ya'll not wa'll

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterboazwife

The first Lady is definitely a very adventurous woman, for she takes risk. That is the reason why I'm hook on her, she keeps you wanting for more. Now I do understand what her husband was saying, quote; She was DAZZLING, that is what I thought the first time I met her, and she has a wicked sense of humor". No wonder the President always have a beautiful smile on his face. You can only imagine when these two get together!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

I have to respectfully disagree with the statement that Jill Biden's dress is not age appropriate. If someone hadn't mentioned it, I'd never have associated it with any particular age level. I know a lot of young people, and although I think they might like the dress on someone else, I don't think many would choose it for themselves. Just my opinion!

I just have to say again how great Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg looks! I'm always amazed at the way she's maintained her figure, and her clothing is always perfectly tailored to fit her beautifully. I loved the dress she wore to introduce her Uncle Ted at the convention. And the color of this gown is perfect for her.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMs. G

I love Dr Biden's dress but I agree it is a little too young for her. Halle Berry wore that same dress to an event earlier this year.
http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/celebrity/photo-galleries/dos-and-donts-voting/090220-halle-berry-in-a-grey-and-gold-reem.aspx

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeaven

I like the dress but of the front collar looks like it should be the back and not the front.

Also, even though it is an edgy dress and Michelle likes to stand out in a crowd I think she is standing out in the crowd for all the wrong reasons with this fashion choice.

Looking at all the floor length gowns in the several photos of the other attendees on the newyorksocialdiary site -- it seems as if Michelle and Jill are the only ones that are wearing shorter dresses. Jill's dress is lovely with the right amount of formality for the occasion - Jill's dress shouts out "I'm going to the opera" whereas Michelle's dress does not.

This appears to be one time that Michelle did 'not' dress for the occasion and missed the mark.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

R u serious she missed the mark? FLOTUS looks goorgeous!!!!!! I love the outfit its different and daring

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered Commentersierra

@Leah D

This is not school, you dont follow the leader when your in your 40's. Give me a break, Michelle is not your barbie doll. Thank God this woman does not dress boring and stuffy!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterStella

As of Jill, this woman is in her mids 50's and looks damn good for it, she does not need to dress like and old woman with her body. these women are confident women who don't care about others opinions, two cheers for Mrs. O and Mrs.B.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterStella

Well that settles it, we all need to agree to disagree. Mrs. O looked young, fresh and she stood out (in a good way)Mrs. B looked great, not a big fan of the bow in the back but she pulled it off. Caroline in my opinion looked like she blended in with the stage curtain; and the other ladies looked predictable, nothing special.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterQui

Well put Moja31 on the "Michelle Effect"!

This first lady is simply terrific and so way ahead...she will not be pigeon-holed and I love it!

I also love that she remains unfazed, unaffected and unimpressed by the usual social set ticks...An article about her appearance at the MET shared that it was obvious that unlike many others, she was there primarily for the kids...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

Well put Moja31 on the “Michelle Effect”!

This first lady is simply terrific and so way ahead…she will not be pigeon-holed and I love it!

I also love that she remains unfazed, unaffected and unimpressed by the usual social set ticks…An article about her appearance at the MET shared that it was obvious that unlike many others, she was there primarily for the kids…

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

I really do think that Mrs Biden looks really smashing as does Caroline Kennedy...

We've all got to remember that these women are just absolutely stunning for their various ages-

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

Jill Biden looks fabulous! I've always thought she was an amzing dresser too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterLady W

sierra,

Yes, I am serious.
Of course Michelle looked great I did not say that she didn't - but my comment was regarding the dress and in my opinion it would have been better if she had worn a 'formal gown' for the opera appearance.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

Stella,
No matter what age you are you still should dress according to what the occasion is. Btw, I recently turned 50 so I do know how women in the 40's dress. Since you are talking about school and barbie dolls it does make me curious as to your age.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 4:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

It seems that some here are uncomfortable with the fact that we may not all agree on a look. That discomfort pains me. I'd like it if we could all really enjoy the various reactions. Our diversity of opinion and taste make this site interesting.

One opinion doesn't diminish or make an opposite opinion less valid or worthwhile. I love and learn from everyone's opinion. Taste is such an individual thing. Viva la difference!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillow

Now that I've seen the entire dress: Face it, our First Lady is a fashionista. Fashion to her, I believe, is an art and a means of self expression. Fashion is something that interests her a great deal, and I don't think she'd be ashamed to admit it.

I think she doesn't dress to win approval from others, or to look alluring to men. She dresses for herself. She's interested in the art of fashion: the cut of a garment, the color or print chosen, the skill, creativity and imagination of the designer.

Beyond that, as many have noted, she very artfully makes each garment her own by adding her own touches. Her enjoyment and love of clothes and accessories is apparent every time she appears.

Her keen intelligence is also apparent in her choices both of clothing and accessories.

In the ABT photo above, she stands with other women, all in lovely dresses. But it's Michelle, in my view, who has put the most thought into her look, who has chosen the dress with the most interesting cut and fabric, who has chosen a design that is a work of art.

Often, something that is arty is not particularly the most traditionally beautiful. But it's the most interesting. I applaud Mrs. O for her unique, always interesting, style, and for her self-admitted love of clothes. (There's room in this world for "frippery," especially when one's life is also filled with things of importance.)

I'm a real fan of our fashionista First Lady, and look forward every day to Mrs. T's reporting on this woman destined to be added to the pantheon of great American Women of Style.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterInHerFashion

Alsace, Wow, I can't imagine thinking Susan Fales-Hill is dressed attractively - kind of drab and unimaginative. Not flattering at all to her. And those sleeves are matronly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM | Unregistered Commentertrudy

meta, she wore a crinoline to Ford's Theater.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered Commentertrudy

Hey Audrey, where did you read that article?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

From the site: http://newyorksocialdiary(dot)com/node/378179

One of the most striking and attractive gowns (at least the fabric, since I cannot see much of the design of the gown) is worn by Blaine Trump. The white lines swirling through the black background are gorgeous. It stands out from everyone else but is at the same time subtle, and very artistic. Love it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterWillow

I am really enjoying the spectrum of opinions today. What I love about Michelle is she is not like me. Personally, I would love to be like everyone else in regards to fashion and not rock the boat so to speak---that's my comfort level 80% of the time in my clothing choices, although I am very forthcoming in speech and in other forms of communication as well as at work and with friends. But with fashion---not entirely no---not all the time.

Why I find her so fascinating is her willingness to be the few among us to bust out of norms and traditional constraints and set her own path. That is admirable. When I look at her clothing, I often ask myself if I'm being so severely critical on an outfit because I don't think I would have the courage to express myself so freely in the same situation? Would I be so bold in a sea of fashion icons, wealthy, artsy folks from NY? Is there a rule as to what to wear to the ballet, as long as it is formal? Is formal the length of a dress or the glamour of the entire ensemble? In NY, I've seen both. I personally feel that the construction and metallic fabric make this outfit formal. We also haven't seen the Thakoon jacket she was wearing with it. I remember the uproar on the outfit she wore to meet the Queen, and few mentioned the gorgeous Jason Wu opera coat she wore with the ensemble when she was entering the palace.

A lot of these women that regularly attend these social/philanthropic events typically want to stay in the loop and will often stay within their own comfort zones in order to remain in that loop. Mrs. O strikes me as a woman that seeks no one's approval. I also find it interesting that she really wasn't mingling at the ballet. Others were in awe of just her presence there. I've read so many articles where people were just clamoring to even get to Desiree to just get an invite to the WH or to even speak to Mrs. O for a minute. Mrs. O doesn't seem to be fazed at all with the fame and celebrity. As First Lady, she is entitled to stand out and stand in her own, deservedly so. If she doesn't, then who? This is just my thought process, but I do understand the other perspectives here and respect other's thoughts as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJanelle

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