Michelle Obama's Fashion Legacy Came Full Circle Last Night

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.
Michelle Obama is all about creating narratives through her wardrobe. Towards the end of her time at the White House, she's done this by taking us on a stroll down memory lane by way of some of her most memorable dresses from the beginning of the Obama administration. For her final speech as FLOTUS, Obama wore a red dress by Narciso Rodriguez — which reminded us of the red and black number by the same designer that she donned when her husband was first elected in 2008. When President Obama addressed the nation for the last time in Chicago last night, where his campaign began, Michelle also harkened back to the very beginning of her time as First Lady — with the help of Jason Wu.

FLOTUS watched her husband say farewell to the American people in a custom long-sleeved, navy lace dress, created by the designer that helped shape her image at the White House early on. In 2009, Obama tapped Wu, then still a young (and mostly unknown) designer, to whip up her gown for the inauguration ball. "He was crying. He was shocked, He was happy. He couldn't believe it," Obama's then-stylist, Ikram Goldman, recalled to NPR of Wu's reaction to the first time FLOTUS picked one of his gowns.

Eight years later, and the Taiwanese-Canadian designer has been responsible for some of FLOTUS' most stunning, poignant looks — including her second inauguration gown, from 2013. "As a designer, you want to be in fashion magazines, you want to have great shows," Wu told The Telegraph in 2016. "But to be a part of history, and that particular moment [the Inauguration], that was a once in a lifetime."

Some people thought the dark hue of FLOTUS' dress, which looked black on screens, felt much more somber than the First Lady's fashion choices for past addresses (a few even jokingly likened it to what someone might wear to a funeral). Still, for an evening that had such an emotional significance for so many — and for a public figure who has continuously used fashion as a way to convey meaning — we'd say Obama made the perfect choice.
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