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Monday
Jan212013

Mrs. O Wows in Ruby Jason Wu

For a second time, Jason Wu has designed Mrs. O's inaugural ball gown. In some sense, it's bit of a surprise. If there's one way to describe the first lady's style, it's diverse. Over the past four years, Mrs. O has worn more than 50 designers, and that's a conservative count. While Jason Wu has remained consistently in the mix - most recently, Mrs. O has worn pieces from the designer's Miss Wu line - new names have emerged too. When polled last week, 10% of you thought Mrs. O would wear Jason Wu for this occasion. This choice indicates a lasting affinity for the designer, and a connection between Wu and Mrs. O that takes on new, even greater status.

As for the dress: the cut of the gown highlights Mrs. O's enviable arms, shoulders and back. The color reads power, and provides an energetic shift away from the subdued hues of the weekend. The lightness and movement of the fabric connotes an easy femininity. All in all, a winning combination.

Per a White House official via the pool report: "The first lady is wearing a custom Jason Wu ruby colored chiffon and velvet gown, shoes by Jimmy Choo, and a handmade diamond embellished ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. At the end of the inaugural festivities, the outfit and accompanying accessories will go to the National Archives."

Of note, I believe the Kimberly McDonald "embellished ring" is incorporated into the neckline of the dress, per the sketch below. To see more of the first lady's inaugural jewels from Kimberly McDonald, click here.

For further reading:

"Mrs. Obama's Inaugural Wardrobe by Many Designers" [New York Times]

"Picking a Winner Among a Field of Bold Theories" [New York Times]

"First lady Michelle Obama serves as fashion icon" [Washington Post]

A sketch of the gown via CNN's @AlinaChoCNN:

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Reader Comments (116)

@Ann it takes all to make the world interesting but I think that the McQueen dress that she wore to the state dinner was flat out ugly. It made her look lopsided and deformed. This gown is a stunner!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterdenisegirl

I had a thought that perhaps Mrs. O intended to 'underwhelm', I don't think that is such a negative thing. The dark blues that made her disappear beside her husband. The simple but lovely gown for the ball. I do think that this amazing woman intended this weekend to be her husband's moment. Smart women understand these things and step back when necessary. In so doing she has cemented her place in history and in most of our hearts. I know that my 15 year old granddaughter will be telling her children about this weekend and Michelle Obama will be talked about for generations to come. I used to be a conservative republican until she came along and stole my heart and changed my mind. May God continue to bless President and Mrs. Obama and their lovely daughters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterjuliede

I loved the fabric, but I thought the style of the gown was too casual for the occasion. I anticipated she would wow us with the same or greater impact as her state dinner looks. I do think the gown was a good complement to her hairstyle, but just too casual, especially when "her date" was in white tie.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnansaA

The dress is very attractive, at the design level. Mrs. Obama is statuesque. The dress and the woman don't fit, however. The dress was designed to look well if it had a pinched waist, which enables the flow of the fabric. Mrs. Obama always looks better if she doesn't have a belt or a seamed waist. Also, she has such great shoulders, which get cut off in a way with this cross the neck neckline. I don't think it does her any favors, whereas a slanted one-shoulder line looks fab.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAuntE

I was struck while watching the daytime inaugural festivities that MO has really learned what works. While I loved her lemongrass ensemble four years ago, it had lots of "working parts" and blew apart in the wind, was complicated, had to be adjusted. This time, although I thought the color was a little subdued, the outfit worked much better: no buttons, no ties, a simple zipper to the coat which allowed her to walk in the wind and never worry about how she would look in photos, etc. I am sure she took that into consideration when she was choosing her outfit. Her red gown was stunning and worked perfectly for the occasion. It is not my all time favorite, but really, with the wonderful things she has worn, how can you play "can you top this" every time? I hate to hear the First Family criticized, but after all, this is the US of A; keep in mind, though, that any items of clothing not donated to her are paid for by the Obamas, personally, and are not coming out of your tax dollars!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterKywstgal

Stunning. Whatever she chooses simply fits her brilliantly! Love her and POTUS well, handsome as always :)))) Happy DAY

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterRenetta

I love the 2009 and the 2013 inaugural ball gowns Mrs. O wore.

OAN: To the trolls making untruthful comments regarding the costs of Mrs. O's clothing, here's a tip: It's their money, they can spend it however they please.
There have been poor, unemployed; under-employed; and homeless families in the United States of America during every presidency. The ills of this Country did not begin on January 20, 2009.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 11:05 AM | Registered CommenterSoccerNana

Mrs. O has never shined so much!
Her makeup has been flawless too!
Loved everything!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterLyndsy Keebs

This was ok. Not wow or memorable. Somehow the combination of the hairstyle, the jewelry and the dress are "ok". If that is what she wanted to achieve, ok. I like the outfits worn during the day though. Especially the coat with the gloves. Also loved the neckline of the dress with the little cardigan worn to the dinner.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterObserver

I don't think people should interpret criticisms of the outfits as criticisms of Mrs. O. If this is a blog dedicated to discussions about her fashion style, why can't we just talk about her clothes in that spirit without political motives one way or the other? With that, I will say that I like the swearing-in coat better on 2nd look. While the color is still much too somber and the stiff fabric resembles armor, the tailoring and A line give it a structure and formality suitable to the occasion. I think the coat is served much better in it original intent without the embellishment of the jeweled belt. That said, the dress beneath and little cardigan shrug are just too casual, like something you would see at a neighborhood barbecue in the 50's. The ball gown, on 2nd look, also improves a bit, mainly because of the color which suits her skin color very well. However, as someone said, it's a resort dress. Let's admit it, we have seen a cross-over halter neckline with a keyhole, coupled with a flowing skirt, in countless resort collections . My rule of thumb is if the fabric is luxurious, like duchesse satin or heavily beaded, the design should be subtle and elgantly structural. Think Jacqueline Kennedy's inaugural outfit. OTOH, if the fabic is less luxe, the design and any embellishment should be more striking to give interest to the overall effect. It's a matter of balance. Now, this is not a cocktail party or captain's night on a cruise ship, it's an inaugural "ball". The dress should be important enough either in farbic or in design to merit that designation. Unfortunately, this dress fails in both departments. It's eminently forgettable, but saved from total disaster by its beautiful color and its statuesque wearer. I have to question Jason Wu's taste, talent, and sense of occasion with this dress and the one four years ago, especially the one from four years ago. That fussy number that couldn't decide if it wanted to be a mumu, a prom dress, or a bridal gown was a horrendous turkey, compared to this red gown. Again, as people have pointed out, Mrs. O has worn so many memorable ensembles that you can't be too down on her for the occasional disappointment. But it's hard not to be deflated after such heavy anticipation and expectations on this of all occasions. If I were Mrs. O, I would give Jason Wu's clothes a rest for a long while.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDwinn

@Dwinn says:
"--If I were Mrs. O, I would give Jason Wu's clothes a rest for a long while.-"
But that's the whole point, you aren't Mrs Obama and thankfully, she won't be doing any such thing.
And your design rules thankfully are just that - yours. They don't necessarily dictate every other designers approach.
Jason Wu has his and Mrs Obama obviously seems to like whatever it is he has on offer.
He obviously captured exactly what Mrs Obama wanted. A pretty, feminine, softly seductive but understated gown celebrating a huge personal victory and milestone for her husband in the midst of a slow economic recovery and still faced with a hostile opposition and a bitterly divided country. One in which the hostile partisans will decry even the slightest hint of glamour, while those who love and support both she and her husband, will scream for said glamour.
This dress strikes exactly the right note and balance.

Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7:54 PM | Registered CommenterEleroy

@Dwinn says:
"--If I were Mrs. O, I would give Jason Wu's clothes a rest for a long while.-"
But that's the whole point, you aren't Mrs Obama and thankfully, she won't be doing any such thing.
And your design rules thankfully are just that - yours. They don't necessarily dictate every other designers approach.
Jason Wu has his and Mrs Obama obviously seems to like whatever it is he has on offer.
He obviously captured exactly what Mrs Obama wanted. A pretty, feminine, softly seductive but understated gown celebrating a huge personal victory and milestone for her husband in the midst of a slow economic recovery and still faced with a hostile opposition and a bitterly divided country. One in which the hostile partisans will decry even the slightest hint of glamour, while those who love and support both she and her husband, will scream for said glamour.
This dress strikes exactly the right note and balance.
Watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yVG5R02NDo
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310508-5
http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/01/22/3804369/how-michelle-obama-is-redefining.html

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:26 AM | Registered CommenterEleroy

Mrs Obama obviously knows what she likes and what pleases and thrills her husband who clearly could not keep his hands off his wife and particularly seemed to love the deep v-cut on the back of her gown. Really sexy!!!
I just love the way this couple loves each other!!! They ROCK!!!
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310508-5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yVG5R02NDo

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 4:46 AM | Registered CommenterEleroy

Mrs Obama obviously knows what she likes and what pleases and thrills her husband who clearly could not keep his hands off his wife and particularly seemed to love the deep v-cut on the back of her gown. Really sexy!!!
I just love the way this couple loves each other!!! They ROCK!!!
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/310508-5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yVG5R02NDo

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 4:57 AM | Registered CommenterEleroy

@flotusrocks You and I know that she chose that dress because it is what she liked not, as someone else said, because she wanted to choose Wu, again! This "born for this moment" woman likes belts and cardigans. Do you think she cares that we might not. No more than Hilliary cares that we like her pantsuits. That is why they mesmerize us. We admire their courage, determination and strength. Yes FLOTUS rocks!
.@juliede "The simple but lovely gown for the ball. I do think that this amazing woman intended this weekend to be her husband's moment. Smart women understand these things and step back when necessary."
A thousand yesses to this statement.

Friday, January 25, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Registered Commenterladywatcher

The more I see this dress, the more I like it. I really didn't at first.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterOc

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