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Wednesday
Jan192011

Mrs. O in Alexander McQueen

Image by Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Image by Jewel Samad / Getty Images

Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photos

First Lady Michelle Obama wears a red petal print silk organza off-the-shoulder Alexander McQueen gown to tonight's state dinner at the White House. The color, red, is not a complete surprise, as it symbolizes good luck and happiness in Chinese culture. The choice of design house is more unexpected, as many had speculated that the first lady would wear a gown by a Chinese-American designer. If we've learned one thing about Mrs. O's style, it's that it never fails to surprise. The gown is a daring, high-glamour choice for the occasion.   

It is also a wonderful honor for the house of Alexander McQueen. The work of the late designer has long been a staple in the first lady's wardrobe. Booth Moore of the L.A. Times reports that this gown, in fact, was designed by Alexander McQueen's successor, Sarah Burton. Indeed, the dress appears to be a variation of an Alexander McQueen Resort 2011 gown, seen here

If you haven't yet seen it, please do give Robin Givhan's piece for The Daily Beast a read. In her first story for the site, Givhan does a superb job of translating Mrs. O fashion's message, in a way only she can. Of a seemingly unexpected choice, Givhan presents great logic.

"The red petal print, silk organza gown wasn’t so much an act of diplomacy as a broad statement about the new realities of the fashion industry. In choosing a dress from Alexander McQueen, Mrs. Obama championed the cause of artisan design, the legacy of bespoke tailoring, and the staggering creativity that can be nurtured in the frock trade when it is at its best."

"Michelle Obama in Alexander McQueen: Lady in Red at the White House State Dinner" [The Daily Beast]

Update: For those curious about Mrs. O's jewelry, the First Lady wore Ruby and Geode Earrings in 18k Yellow Gold from New York-based jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald.

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Reader Comments (168)

WOW, MrsO is divine in the Alexandra McQueen...I LOVE LOVE LOVE!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:45 PM | Registered CommenterStylishgurl

I don't know if I am "feeling" this look on Mrs. O. l love the color, but will have to see more pics before I give it a full thumbs up. It will be interesting to see what others think.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

While it doesn't seem the "off the shoulder" attempt should have been that difficult, "Mrs. O's" conservative dare makes me proud of our progress.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterna

Not my favorite of hers. The dress seems to overpower her and shes not shinning through as she usually does

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterinvictus

OMG. I give this dress to snaps and a twirl. The FLOTUS is stunning as well as the POTUS. What a beautiful couple.


Jay

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJay

Gorgeous, just perfect.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdwina

Gasp!

LOVE the shoulder cut. Just love it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnar

At first I was not sure about this dress.

Then I watched the video feed.

http://theobamadiary.com/2011/01/19/hosts/

The dress looks more lovely on video, and I am sure it is more beautiful in person.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Registered CommenterTammy Gerardi

It's ok. Not my favorite formal look, but still nice.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterKels

and I love the hair even more! fierce!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnar

She looks great. Not a fan of the dress though.

Weird that it is by a Brit designer when there are a lot of Chinese or Chinese-American designers that could have been used.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMica

I came across this; it gives us the styles of other FLOTUS's at State Dinners. As I scrolled through I thought wow Mrs Clinton looks great there ... same with some others. Then Mrs O came up and she was hands down the most stunning.... interesting style review

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/19/state-dinner-style-past-photos_n_810888.html#s52813&title=Mamie_Eisenhower_1958

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterValerie

Woweeee!!! STUNNING!!!
My magnificent First Lady and spectacular President!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:21 PM | Registered CommenterEleroy

I believe that red also stands for radiant and ravishing. Mrs O is quite the fashionista and can without a doubt pull off ANYTHING! I mean, how stunning does she look here?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlana

And no Mica, Mrs Obama does not have to "use" any of your prescribed options. She pays for it, she gets to pick it!!!

Nobody ever demanded that the Oscar de la renta wearing former first ladies EVER wear designers that had some ancestral connections to the event or those being honored.

Mrs Obama of her own volition CHOSE to wear certain designers at certain times that coincided with those ancestral connections. She CHOSE to. As she now chooses to wear the late Alexander McQueen for her own reasons.

And that ought to be good enough for you and all other anonymous online commenters!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:29 PM | Registered CommenterEleroy

Looks like a custom gown from Alexander McQueen Resort Spring 2011. The bodice and sleeve look specially designed for Mrs. O, based on this run-down of the collection:

http://thehautecollective.onsugar.com/resort-2011-sarah-burtons-1st-collection-alexander-mcqueen-9039137

I think I prefer the black satin fabric with gold print...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterjbDC

THIS IS FABULOUS!!! I can hardly breathe...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. A.

I like that this gown is very "grand". I don't think ANY dress can overpower Mrs. Obama; she is so statuesque. The thing I'm wondering is if the off-the-shoulder look is the way the dress is designed, or did she just take that strap and drop it off the shoulder, just to "jazz" it up a little. Something about it just doesn't look quite right.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:36 PM | Registered Commenterbabs

The more I look at the dress, the more interesting. Architecturally speaking it is very fascinating. Loves it. And I think the off shoulder adds a certain oomph.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt's me

The wind blown hair is "it." Not sure, but dramatic.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/16/scarlett-johansson-golden-globes-2011_n_809772.html

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterfrg

I read a comment on another board and it is so apt: "Who would have thought Michelle Obama would have taken more of a fashion risk than the nominees on the Golden Globe red carpet?" And that is so true -- this is a very avant-garde selection for the occasion, and I think it's great. I appreciate that it says "Asian inspired" without being super-obvious, like if she came out in a qipao.

I can understand the desire to see her in a Chinese or Chinese American designed gown. There are some TOP NOTCH Chinese/Chinese-American designers out there. What this selection says to me, though, is that when/if MO sees a Chinese designer she likes, she will wear those clothes when she likes. We don't have to wait for a "China occasion" to see her wearing "Chinese-designed" clothes. Just like she doesn't limit her African-American designed clothes to some kind of "black" event. And that's a good thing. She keeps it eclectic.

I'm a little "meh" about the hair, though. Scarlett Johansson was rocking the same updo during the GG red carpet, and I wasn't sure how I liked it on her, either. But this dress needs an exuberant hairstyle, so it probably all ties in nicely.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:44 PM | Registered CommenterChristina

Hi Eleroy ,

a) Calm down.

b) I am aware of the fact that, as an adult, Michelle Obama gets to pick her own clothes. I am also aware of the fact that on a fashion website, it is common to discuss what you do and do not like about an outfit with the understanding that everyone knows your own personal opinion actually has no impact on Michelle Obama and that it is just that, an opinion.

No one on this website actually thinks, when they express liking or disliking an outfit, that it actually matters to Michelle and we all know that she is free to pick what she wants.

c) Michelle has, in the past, honored heads of state by choosing a designer that is of the name ethnicity as the country being honored. For example, an Indian American designer was chosen for the State Dinner for India and another Indian American designer was chosen when Michelle was honored in India.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMica

Even though the designer is not Chinese, the print of the dress looks the brush strokes from a chinese ink wash painting. Very inspired choice, she looks radiant.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterEdwina

She looks gorgeous, however the look is more appropriate for the Golden Globes than a state dinner. No matter, I love our First Lady.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:49 PM | Unregistered Commenter976

The fabric of the dress is a beautiful combination of red and black. Now that I have seen the back of the dress I also wonder if the left strap of the dress is meant to be worn off the shoulder because it doesn't seem to lay properly on her arm, it seems to pull and not lay flat. What do you think - has she put her own "twist" on the original style? Either way she looks smashing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnn

Not what I was expecting. Nevertheless, Michelle Obama is stunning, again!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorgia

I'm not TOtally sure I dig the little shawl. Is it just me, or does it not really match anything? Anyway, just being picky.

Does anyone but me enjoy reading the guest list of these events?

Edited to add -- Ann, I think that the neckline is supposed to be asymmetric, and also that the one strap is supposed to be be kind of...folded, I guess? I looked at some other pictures and it seems very intentional. By tomorrow or later tonight I suspect we'll see a runway picture of this dress, and we'll know for sure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Registered CommenterChristina

I love it... she has A MAZIIIIIING STYLE.. What a beauty!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRenetta

Here's the dress -- Alexander McQueen resort 2011 -- looks like modified bodice. Good move, it would have been a crime to cover up MO's shoulders! :-)

http://www.fashionising.com/pictures/p--Alexander-McQueen-Resort-2011-Collection-6996-104094.html

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:07 PM | Registered CommenterChristina

I had a feeling that when she put the dress on, the strap fell off her shoulder - wouldn't stay up - so she said pfft and left it there. I would have.

It appears to be a rework of the strapless gown shown in black and gold in the same collection - but with the bright red and black organza fabric.

Interesting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeeGee

This is Michelle's THIRD state dinner, so I am unsure why Michelle's critics think it's odd that she is not wearing a dress by a Chinese designer. You all may think that she chose the designers for her first two state dinners because of their ethnicity, but likely Michelle chose her dresses two wear to those state dinners because she liked the CLOTHES.


Anyway, I LOVEEEEEEEEEEE this dress, but I don't like her wrap, it's not needed. This is FLOTUS I adore. I love when she does not play it safe clothes wise, and steps out in COLOR, which sets her apart from othere First Ladies. I love that she wears BRIGHT clothing, instead of boring scructured clothing. Alsom I love the hair pulled up!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:09 PM | Registered CommenterM.M.

My last post is in moderation. I mentioned this as the original from which I believe her gown was adapted.

http://www.fashionising.com/pictures/p--Alexander-McQueen-Resort-2011-Collection-6996-104092.html

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeeGee

FLOTUS knows she looks good tonight.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Registered CommenterM.M.

I am in heaven.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRory

A. few additional comments......The gown is very elegant and has great movement when she walks, but it is resort, and I am not sure that it reaches the level of sophistication for such a glamorous evening, but she does look good in it. I would have liked to have seen a more substantial earring, and the hair is just a tad rough looking. Also, she may have chosen this look to coincide with the American feel of the menu that the Chinese emperor requested. Ribeye steak, onion rings, spinach, apple pie and ice cream. So maybe this is the new casual elegance of Mrs. O-caftan-like, flowly, flowery, etc. And yes, Christina I too follow the guest lists - very interesting that Wendy Murdoch was invited. When I lived in DC, you could actually walk up to the side of the White House and actually see the guests going in, and say hello to them - not anymore though.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

I like it, I like it, I really really like it!
Looking good MO!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Registered CommenterSoccerNana

BRAVO!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterthe other Kathryn

Love it! Its McQueen, and yet has an Asian flare about it. The hair and make are an absolute TEN! Coutoure, without being coutoure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Unregistered Commentero'Coutoure

she wears it well. not wild about the old shoulder design as it looks last minute to me. i almost want to reach over and pull it up for her. think a true one should of this fabric would look outstanding on her. she has the neck, shoulders and arms to rock a one shoulder look.

hair, as said above, is fierce!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterann

Strange that I neer notice the scar across her left wrist, she must hae been hiding it wil all the braclets before. But with the Golden Globes re-do, braclets, or necklace would have taken frm the flashy pattern, and sheen of the fabric.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterfrg

Mrs. O looks great and the color red, the shawl and the earrings all have a very Asian feel. She makes such powerful political statements with her clothing and I'm not sure that everyone fully recognizes this (besides us loyal Mrs. O devotees, of course).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterStrong Foru

Wow! Mrs. O looks great in the red. What a powerful political statement she's making with that color and with the Asian-inspired earrings and shawl.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM | Registered CommenterStrong Foru

The dress is lovely though it looks like it could have been even better as a not off the shoulder dress. My question is what is going on with the shawl????? The colors seem odd as does the texture. It takes away from the grandeur of the dress. Can you tell us about shawl and what you think she was thinking?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMixed on Mrs O.

@The Cincinnati Kid: The gown not appropriate for such a glamorous evening? Are you kidding?? The guest of honor is wearing the same suit he was wearing this morning and the editor of Vogue magazine is wearing a skirt suit...with no pantyhose. PLEASE stop making up criticism. SHE LOOKS BEAUTIFUL FULL STOP!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRory

Such a woman of elegant. Love this First Lady!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandra C.

@Rory.....I am entitled to my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. Further, I made no comment about the Chinese Prime Minister, nor Anna Wintour. This blog concerns Mrs. O, and that is who I spoke about. Why must we always make snide, catty remarks when we don't agree with others. You act like no one can say anything other than "bravo" and "fabulous" about Mrs. O's wardrobe. I am a big Obama supporter-voting, getting people registered to vote, and by my financial donations to his campaign. Instead of catty remarks, go out and work on his campaign, and make some donations so that we all can continue to see the President and Mrs. O in the White House after the next national election.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Cincinnati Kid

@The Cincinnati Kid:

"....Ribeye steak, onion rings, spinach, apple pie and ice cream."

And now I am totally starving. And there's nothing in the fridge but cold pizza. Sad face!

Wendi Murdoch is an interestng choice -- no Rupert? I can't imagine they intentionally did not invite him. That would have looked petty on the part of the WH.

I always have the urge to "straighten" all asymmetric necklines when I see them on models, stars, and now MO. I know it's supposed to look that way and it is beautiful, but I'm a little OCD I guess! (I also straighten crooked pictures in my friends' houses.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:28 PM | Registered CommenterChristina

She looks STUNNING. The hair and makeup are perfect. The gown is not only gorgeous but it suits her utterly. How proud she makes me!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterFletcher

I am always amazed at my First Lady's style. She dresses the way she likes and ALWAYS looks elegant and beautiful!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMssylady

I think the dress is very beautiful. I do agree however with another poster that this look is a bit much, i.e. more suitable for something like the Golden Globes. No need to go over the top. I think someone else said the guest of honour was wearing the same suit all day. Don't try so hard! Michelle is blessed with naturally stunning good looks and a statuesque figure - I don't know why she wears so many clothes that detract from those assets. I wish she'd stay with more simple designs that flatter her. What happened to, say, Maria Pinto?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterlanneq

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