This week the Obamas began their European tour. All eyes were on Michelle to see what she packed and loaded onto Air Force One. First stop: London, where the presidential couple met with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, as well as the Queen. Favorites like Jason Wu and Isabel Toledo made appearances, while a couple surprises ensued. Let's see Michelle's Euro style! P.S. France is next on the agenda. Can you imagine the fabulousness of Michelle and Carla Bruni chatting over croissants?
It was announced this week that a fashion retrospective celebrating designer Isabel Toledo is slated to open at FIT's museum this June. The retrospective, entitled "Isabel Toledo: Fashion From The Inside Out", will display approximately seventy looks from the mid-1980's to present, including pieces from Toledo's time as creative director of Anne Klein. The retrospective will be open to the public from June 17th through September 26th. We'll be reporting on the retrospective when it opens but, for now, check out a first look at some of the designs included in the exhibition.
>> The meteoric rise of Jason Wu — he has tripled his sales appointments for his sold out, yet-to-be-unveiled Fall 2009 collection — shows what an influence Michelle Obama can have on a designer. But Wu doesn't just have Obama to thank — he never actually interacted with the First Lady, but rather with Ikram Goldman, owner of Chicago boutique Ikram, and Obama's gatekeeper to the fashion industry.
In fact, none of the designers who have made clothes for the First Lady have had any direct contact with their White House client — all commissions, measurements, bills, and other directions have been mediated by Ikram, causing something of a controversy; the clothes that Obama has worn recently are predominantly from designers that Cathy Horyn points out, "Ikram sells and ultimately stands to benefit from" — Jason Wu, Isabel Toledo, Narciso Rodriguez, Proenza Schouler, Thakoon, and Mario Cornejo.
>> Isabel Toledo may have shelled out for that lemongrass fabric she used to make Michelle Obama's inaugural day dress — it rings in at $500 a yard — but it's Jason Wu who will be reaping the Fashion Week benefits of an Obama nod.
In fact, Wu's show "might be the hottest ticket in town" — right after Marc Jacobs — according to The New York Observer. Elle is sending seven more staffers than it did to Wu's Spring 2009 show — including editor-in-chief Robbie Myers, creative director Joe Zee, and style director Kate Lanphear. Bergdorf Goodman is bringing its entire buying team, in addition to fashion director Linda Fargo and senior women's fashion director Roopal Patel, who attended last season. Anna Wintour is sure to attend again, especially since she was already front row for the Spring 2009 show.
With just a couple days into her reign as the First Lady, Michelle Obama is already starting to feel the pressures of her position. Amnau Eele, former model and co-founder of the Black Artists Association, is filing a formal appeal to the First Lady’s office on behalf of the BAA. The charge? They're mad at her for not wearing anything by an African American designer at her inaugural appearances.
“It’s one thing to look at the world without color but she had seven slots to wear designer clothes. Why wasn’t she wearing the clothes of a black designer? That was our moment,” said Eele. There's no doubt the First Lady has a lot of responsibilities to uphold but should her fashion choices be one of them?
>> First Lady Michelle Obama — soon to be Vogue cover girl, most likely shot by Annie Leibovitz — has been in position for a day and already made a couple of careers: those of Isabel Toledo and Jason Wu, who are now household names.
Both designers' looks were special-ordered through Chicago boutique owner Ikram Goldman, who is expected the advise the First Lady over the next four years — she also helped with Obama's choice of Jimmy Choo shoes and Loree Rodkin jewelry — and neither Wu nor Toledo were told their designs were for the inauguration. The two designers were on The Today Show this morning, talking color choice, fabric choice, and how they were "awestruck," in the words of Jason. And that's not even to mention how all of this will impact their sales — a Spring version of Toledo's dress will hit Barneys in March, retailing for $1,500.
There's no possible way anyone could have missed the news that Michelle Obama wore a frock by Jason Wu at last night's inaugural balls but there's also no saying anyone is tired of looking at her in it! The 26 year old Taiwanese designer appeared on The Today Show this morning, alongside Isabel Toledo, giving both designers the opportunity to talk about the experience. Mrs. Obama's dress will most likely be donated to the Smithsonian, as is tradition. Check out Michelle Obama in Jason Wu's stunning, dream-like gown below.
Yellow. Lemongrass, to be exact. It's a known fact that yellow is an uplifting, optimistic color. What better choice, then, for the new first lady for the swearing-in ceremony this morning. While her tots wore colorful J.Crew Crewcuts (so cute), Michelle continued the delight in a custom Isabel Toledo coat and dress. The Cuban-born designer did not know this would be Michelle's choice today — imagine the designer's delight.
The delicious design was quite luxurious, made of Swiss wool lace, backed with netting for warmth, and lined in pale pink French silk. About the cheery color, “I wanted to pick a very optimistic color, that had sunshine,” Toledo said. Michelle didn't stop the color there. Her olive green leather gloves and teal Jimmy Choo shoes were unexpected additions. I know everyone is comparing Michelle to Jackie O, but Jackie would definitely approve of this. What I adore most about Michelle's look is the texture, the slight overall sparkle, and fancy neckline. Not in a long while has a first lady experimented with color, texture, and embellishments.
To see more of Michelle in her yellow Isabel Toledo, read more
>> This morning, Isabel Toledo received an unexpected big boost in the national eye — Michelle Obama wore the yellow coat and matching dress Toledo specifically designed for her to the inauguration, paired with green Jimmy Choo Glacier pumps.
Toledo didn't know for sure that Obama would pick her designs — which thirteen people in her studio worked on over the Christmas holidays — until this morning, when she turned on the television. "We had no idea. We hoped she would wear something because she has bought Isabel's clothes before. We never know what's going to happen," her husband Ruben Toledo said. "It's just another shock, but a great shock."
The dress and coat are made of Swiss wool lace, backed with netting for warmth and lined in French silk. As for the choice of color? "I wanted to pick a very optimistic color, that had sunshine,” Isabel Toledo said. “I wanted her to feel charmed, and in that way would charm everybody."
While she's long been critically well-received, Toledo has long flown under the radar, particularly since she was pulled from her acclaimed run at Anne Klein two years ago. She said this morning that she didn't even have a PR person to help bring her designs to Mrs. Obama's attention, so perhaps this turn of events will provide the bump she needs.
Sure, the most important thing happening this morning is the inauguration of our new president but a nod to fashion is warranted! After months of speculation, Michelle Obama wears an outfit by Cuban designer Isabel Toledo. Could the choice of an all-yellow ensemble signal caution? And what about those green pumps? A little wink to prosperity perhaps? Check the first pictures of the new first lady, below.