Style

Once again, Michelle Obama dazzles in inaugural gown by Jason Wu

Jan. 21, 2013 at 9:06 PM ET

AP, Getty Images file /
Mrs. Obama wore Jason Wu for balls at both inaugurals.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET:

Just like in 2009, first lady Michelle Obama donned a dazzling gown designed by Jason Wu for the inaugural balls.

Mrs. Obama sashayed and swayed in the custom ruby-colored chiffon and velvet gown while slow-dancing with her husband to Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," performed by Jennifer Hudson.

More: Party time! Obamas make grand entrance at inaugural ball

The first lady also wore a handmade diamond embellished ring by jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald and shoes by Jimmy Choo.

Wu knows better than anyone that a nod from the first lady can catapult a career.

At President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, Mrs. Obama wore a white chiffon, one-shoulder gown designed by then-26-year-old Wu. He didn’t realize that Mrs. Obama had selected his design until she stepped out wearing it.

More: 7 best Joe Biden faces during inauguration

In that instant, Wu skyrocketed from relative obscurity to the heights of fashion fame. The New York-based designer went on to launch a fashion line for Target last year.

"I'll never forget the moment that I slipped on this beautiful gown," Mrs. Obama said of Wu’s 2009 inaugural creation, which featured Swarovski crystals and has since been donated to the First Ladies Collection at the National Museum of American History. The gown, ring and shoes Mrs. Obama selected for the 2013 inaugural festivities will be donated as well.

More: Love is in the air! Obamas get smoochy during inauguration

Wu told The Associated Press that he collaborated with jeweler McDonald on the red gown's jeweled neckline. "For this occasion, it had to be real diamonds," Wu said.

Designer Vera Wang also got to show off her handiwork on Monday night. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, wore a shimmering blue sleeveless gown designed by Wang.

Leading up to the inaugural balls, Mrs. Obama showed off her signature style throughout inauguration weekend, rolling out a series of polished outfits for events from the Kids' Inaugural Concert to the president's swearing-in ceremony.

The first lady stepped out in a sophisticated blue Thom Browne coat and J. Crew shoes for a visit to St. John's Church on the morning of inauguration day, accessorizing with a Cathy Waterman necklace. Browne, an American designer better known for his menswear, designed the coat based on the style of a man's silk tie.

More: Sasha Obama yawns during dad's inaugural address

She then arrived at the inauguration ceremony sporting a bejeweled J. Crew belt, J.Crew gloves, Cathy Waterman earrings and Reed Krakoff boots. She shed the coat at the inaugural luncheon, offering a slight peek at her Thom Browne dress, though she covered it with a sweater by Reed Krakoff.

Experts said her style choices, particularly the fact that she sought out Thom Browne, show the first lady is a fan of fashion. "This is not a designer that you would wander into your local mall and find," fashion critic Robin Givhan said on TODAY Monday. "He's hard to find; he's very unique."

According to the White House, at the end of the inaugural events, the outfit and accessories also will be donated to the National Archives.

Her outfit was carefully coordinated with the first daughters, who dressed in similar hues. Malia Obama wore J.Crew, while Sasha donned a Kate Spade coat and dress.

For President Obama's first swearing-in on Sunday (he will be sworn in again on Monday in a public ceremony), the first lady wore a navy blue Reed Krakoff Dress in the Blue Room at the White House.

Later that night, she sparkled in a black sequined Michael Kors boat neck dress for an inaugural reception at the National Building Museum.

The first lady is known for mixing designer looks with low-key fashions, often alternating between high-end pieces and more casual clothes from J. Crew or H&M.

On Saturday she opted for a more relaxed look at the Kids' Inaugural Concert for the children of military families, wearing a white Alexander McQueen shirt and black pants. The event was emceed by Nick Cannon and featured performances by Katy Perry and Usher.

All eyes have also been on Michelle Obama's most striking style choice this weekend: her bangs.

The president even addressed them at a reception to thank donors, saying, "I love her bangs. She looks good. She always looks good."



This story was originally published at 9:15 a.m. ET Monday, Jan. 21, 2013.


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