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After months of speculation and hundreds of designs, we finally get to lay eyes on Mrs. O's Inaugural Ball gown - a gown for the ages. We are amazed and delighted. On the first day of December, we wrote a post entitled "A Name to Remember" that was inspired by the young designer behind the perfectly sophisticated, modern shift dress Mrs. O wore for an interview with Barbara Walters.
The designer of said dress was Jason Wu - a 26 year old Taipei native, former student of designer Narciso Rodriguez and finalist for the 2008 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize. Tonight, Mr. Wu won the greatest prize of all, dressing our First Lady in a winter white one-shoulder gown flecked with organza flowers and crystals for the Inaugural Ball. Of great interest is what Cheryl Tan of Heard on the Runway reported at the time of the Barbara Walters interview:
Mr. Wu isn't working on any more 'special projects' for Ikram at the moment but is hoping to get another call. While Seventh Avenue has been abuzz over who Mrs. Obama will wear on Inauguration Day, Mr. Wu said he isn’t focusing on that. “Oh,” he said, “that’s a long shot!”
As background, Ikram (referenced in the paragraph above) is Ikram Goldman, the owner of the famed Chicago boutique that bears her first name. We explored Ikram's style influence in a piece earlier this week, "The Mix is the Message". She is responsible for connecting Mrs. O with many of the designers that have become familiar names throughout the campaign and inauguration. In an odd twist, Mrs. O's gown shows similiarity to the design we predicted in interviews with the Chicago Tribune and NPR several weeks ago:
"Winter white chiffon gathered asymmetrically from an empire waist to one shoulder, with a gray-silver full satin skirt. A bejeweled diamond brooch worn off-center at the waist line."
With so many pointing to Mrs. O's penchant for jewel tones, we thought she might choose just the opposite: a white winter that we would remember forever. Indeed we will.
Update: Cathy Horyn of the New York Times is on the case once again - love her. In a conversation with Jason Wu this evening, the designer revealed that he didn't know Mrs. O was going to wear his dress until he saw it this evening. The designer went on to describe the 8 to 10 yards of silk chiffon, and many crystals that went into the design. "It had to sparkle," he said. The dress had been based on measurements and details provided by Ikram Goldman.
Later Tuesday evening, Jason Wu spoke with CNN to explain his inspiration for the dress. "It's about hope. It's about newness," he said. "It's all a little dreamlike, and we're making history, and I wanted to really reflect that." We can practically hear the well-deserved excitement in the designer's voice as he added, "It's thrilling. ... For a young designer, I couldn't ask for any more than this."