21 January 2009

Michelle Obama wears Jason Wu (plus watch the first dance!)

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The wait is over. Last night, Michelle Obama took to the dance floor in Washington and revealed to the world her much-hyped Inauguration Ball gown: a floor-length, one-of-a-kind ivory silk chiffon dress with organza flowers and Swarovski crystal rhinestones created by emerging designer 26-year-old Jason Wu. It was as much of a shock to the Taiwan-born, New York-based designer as anyone else. He was at home with friends last night when, ‘amazed and awestruck', he first caught a glimpse of his creation on television. ‘I had no idea,' he said. ‘I found out with everyone else, which was pretty fabulous when you think about it.' This, along with her choice of relative unknown Isabel Toledo for her Inauguration day outfit, is being heralded by some as a sign that Michelle Obama - just like Jackie O before her - is using fashion to express the themes of her husband's administration: inclusion, hope and expansion. It's certainly a move away from the old-school American designers First Ladies have traditionally worn. So who is Jason Wu? Born in Taipei, he started sewing aged nine when he moved to Vancouver. A Parsons graduate he's worked in Tokyo, Paris and New York, interning with Narciso Rodriguez - the designer Michelle famously chose to wear the night Barack was elected. And there's another link in an interesting fashion chain: Narciso's stellar career was launched when he was chosen, as an unknown assistant to Calvin Klein, to dress Carolyn Bessett for her wedding to John Kennedy Jr. Michelle apparently discovered Jason Wu through Ikram Goldman, the owner of the Chicago boutique Ikram, where Michelle sourced all her options for Inauguration outfits. She last wore the 2008 Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund finalist in November for a Barbara Walters interview and is reported to have benefited from the worldwide press that that appearance brought him. Somehow, we think it'll be nothing like he experiences this morning. Expect your phones to be swamped, Jason (and log on to his website to check out his full collection and videos now before it crashes) - you're going down in fashion history.

Beyonce sang as the President and First Lady took their first dance.

UPDATE: We've just heard that Michelle's shoes were Jimmy Choo again. She wore the 'Dale' sandal in white satin.


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