Karin Tanabe explores Michelle Obama’s modern style and the fashionable women who came before her
Michelle Obama brings a refreshingly modern style to Washington. Loyal, as Pat Nixon was, to American designers, Mrs. Obama has helped lesser known names like Jason Wu, who designed her inauguration gown, and Chicago-based Maria Pinto, make headlines. When her daughters wore J. Crew coats, and she J.Crew gloves, during her husband’s swearing in ceremony, the company’s shares went up 10 percent the following day. At the inaugural balls, Mrs. Obama dressed with appropriate glamour, wearing 61-carat white gold and triple rose cut diamond earrings by Los Angeles-based jewelry designer Loree Rodkin. The jewelry was on loan to the first lady and will be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
While conjuring images of first lady elegance in the White House, fond memories recall the timeless grace of Jacqueline Kennedy and the Hollywood glamour of Nancy Reagan. Mrs. Kennedy exuded chic by wearing the fashions of domestic designers, like Oleg Cassini, and classic French couturiers like Chanel and Dior. Mrs. Reagan was loyal to American designer James Galanos, but also looked across the pond to Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino. Arriving on the heels of one of the most frugal first ladies ever, Rosalynn Carter (who even brought a sewing machine with her to Pennsylvania Avenue), Nancy Reagan dressed with unapologetic glamour. Her wardrobe for her husband’s second inauguration was estimated at $46,000.