After months of speculation that she would wear an inaugural gown by Chicago designer and friend Maria Pinto, Michelle Obama surprised everyone—including the designer himself—by choosing the relatively unknown New Yorker Jason Wu instead.
The gown was ivory and one-shouldered, and festooned with what appeared to be feathers, but were actually "crystal-beaded embroidery and rosette appliqués," according to Women’s Wear Daily.
"I was home and I was, uh, like everybody else I’m sure, I was glued to the TV," the bewildered Mr. Wu told Meredith Vieira this morning on the Today Show.
"I’m a part of history, and that’s amazing!" he continued. "Words couldn’t describe how I felt." (The gown will join the permanent collection at the Smithsonian).
Both Mr. Wu and Isabel Toledo, who designed Ms. Obama’s yellow daytime inaugural dress and matching coat, were apparently asked by Ikram Goldman, owner of Chicago boutique Ikram, to design looks for Ms. Obama. The now-First Lady had worn each designer once before. But neither knew if, or when, she would wear their designs again.
However, there were hints!
"That was one of the things I was told, please make sure she’s going to be warm," Ms. Toledo revealed to Ms. Vieira. ("We are LEVITATING with our staff," Ms. Toledo’s husband and business partner, Ruben Toledo, emailed the Daily Transom yesterday morning).
Mr. Wu was already having a confident season, having recently announced the launch of a fur collection and further distinguishing himself by being the very first designer to send out invites to his February fashion show (on February 13 at Exit Art on 10th Avenue).
He was also a nominee for 2008’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, which bestows funding on one young up-and-comer each year-not to mention the career-making seal of Anna Wintour. Mr. Wu lost out to Alexander Wang (whose punky, often barely-there clothes were likely not up for inaugural consideration).
But Ms. Obama’s choice shows that there is a new fashion star-maker in this town. And she lives in D.C.