News / USA

Michelle Obama Stuns in Jason Wu Gown

Michelle Obama Stuns in Jason Wu Gowni
January 22, 2013 12:30 PM
All eyes are on the president on inauguration day, but it's the first lady who captivates the public's attention on inauguration night. VOA's Suzanne Presto in Washington has more about First Lady Michelle Obama's inaugural ball gown and takes a look back at first ladies' fashion.
Michelle Obama Stuns in Jason Wu Gown
Suzanne Presto
All eyes are on the president on inauguration day, but it's the first lady who captivates the public's attention on inauguration night. 

Michelle Obama dazzled in a ruby red gown at the inaugural balls Monday night.

The softly pleated dress was created by Jason Wu, the young Taiwanese-born designer behind the one-shouldered white silk chiffon gown that she wore to the inaugural balls in 2009.

That white gown is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington.

"People have always looked at what the first lady wears," notes exhibit curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy.  "She's a very public figure.  She belongs to us.  She represents us, and so we're interested in how she presents herself."

Laura Bush wore a silvery gown to celebrate George W. Bush's second inaugural in 2005.  

The Smithsonian exhibit also features Hillary Clinton's beaded lace gown, worn in 1993.  Also on display: the  Hollywood glamour of Nancy Reagan's one-shouldered gown in 1981, so different from Rosalynn Carter in 1977, who wore a chiffon dress she had worn several years earlier.

But the fashion favorite is Jackie Kennedy's 1961 gown.

Public interest in the first lady's attire - and the designers who create those looks - dates back to the 1700s, says Graddy.  

"Really, since Martha Washington [in the late 1700s] people have always been interested in what the first lady is wearing," the curator admits. "Newspaper accounts, accounts of social activity in Washington, would say what the first lady was wearing."

Inaugural ball gowns epitomize the celebrations that captivate the capital every four years.

"The inauguration is a combination of things.  It's a very solemn civic ceremony, and it's also an amazing party," Graddy says.

This year, the partying was scaled back.  There were two official balls, far fewer than the 10 for President Obama's first inauguration.  

According to historian Richard Norton Smith, such festivities are driven by the need to recognize and reward campaign contributors and not presidential ego.

"And then, of course, the poor president has to do something he almost never otherwise does, and that is dance in public," Norton Smith says.

Luckily for President Obama, most of the attention is focused on his wife.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
January 22, 2013 10:10 AM
He should have cancelled the event and put the money toward our national debt, or given it to some homeless disabled veterans or another charitable cause.

by: C Stewart from: Canada
January 22, 2013 9:37 AM
Seriously? THIS is the top story on google news? The Presidents' wife's dress?

Something is very wrong.
In Response

by: ju from: China
January 23, 2013 4:56 AM
In Response

by: overdog from: thailand
January 22, 2013 10:02 AM
Welcome to America.

by: R_Larson from: Land of Enchantent
January 22, 2013 9:22 AM
I love the gown and it's metaphoric symbolism. The last several congresses have spent us nearly into the red and Michelle's elegant gown is a poignant reminder. If anyone wishes to place blame, place it where it belongs: Pres. Obama does not create a budget; he either approves or denies the budget that congress places before him.

by: David Simons from: NY
January 22, 2013 9:11 AM
Really sad that what dress Michelle Obama wore is actually news. Pathetic really. Why do we care? Why should we care? Personally I think she looked horrible. But regardless, this is news? How many people were shot and killed yesterday? Several. So why do we need to hear about a dress? Pathetic!!!

by: B Smith from: PA
January 22, 2013 8:56 AM
What is wrong here? Get dressed up in a very expensive dress and the media goes nuts. Obama hasn't produced a budget since he first took office and the media is mute.
In Response

by: Chris from: USA
January 22, 2013 10:11 AM
The President doesn't produce a budget. In fact, Congress doesn't either. Never has. Congress authorizes spending (and then for some reason idiot Republicans think it's okay to then not authorize payment of the debt after the money has been borrowed). This is basic, basic civics. I wouldn't make any more comments about the President and the government if I were you until you've spent some time to learn something about it.
In Response

by: BC. Guest from: Canada
January 22, 2013 9:47 AM
America's First Lady is beautiful and graceful, yet she's remains a humble person. Relish her while you still can!

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