Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Hoping to "Wu" Michelle: Dressing Michelle Obama in November Was a Game Changer for Designer Jason Wu. Now He Has His Sights Set on the Future First Lady's Most High-Profile Event: Inauguration Day

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Hoping to "Wu" Michelle: Dressing Michelle Obama in November Was a Game Changer for Designer Jason Wu. Now He Has His Sights Set on the Future First Lady's Most High-Profile Event: Inauguration Day

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

THE QUEST TO DESIGN THE INAUGURAL GOWN for Michelle Obama, the American fashion industry's undisputed new muse, has ignited a Project Runway--like challenge of epic proportions for a diverse group of designers whose lines have already benefited from the future first lady's patronage. Some, like Maria Pinto and Thakoon Panichgul, are largely unknown, while others, like gay Cuban-American Narciso Rodriguez, are well-established in elite circles; the crimson-and-black scoop-neck Rodriguez dress Michelle wore on Election Night inspired spirited, deeply divided debate among style bloggers.

"I'm not sure it's a conscious decision, but I believe her whole [message] is about newness, about change," designer Jason Wu says of Obama's style. "And what better way to represent that than from a fashion standpoint?"

Obama's fashion standpoint delights Wu. At 26, he won national attention when Obama appeared on a Barbara Walters TV interview wearing an adaptation of a silk sheath dress from his spring 2009 collection. Eminently feminine, the hand-embroidered dress was a confident departure from the relatively matronly skirt suits of Oscar de la Renta and other tried-and-true design houses that have epitomized first lady attire for years. …

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