by Charles S. Mombo
Tomorrow before President Barack H. Obama steps outside of the U.S. Capital, in front of millions of viewers to be sworn in, all eyes will be eagerly awaiting a glance of America's best-dressed First Lady Michelle Obama as she appears in her inauguration outfit. Later on during the day, the anticipation will be transferred to her evening gown.
On January 20, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama wore an inauguration dress made by Isabel Toledo and a gown by Jason Wu during the Inaugural Ball at the Washington Convention Center.
Prior to 2009, Jason Wu was an unknown 26-year-old. He is a Taipeh, Taiwan-born designer who launched his line in 2006. Wu designed Obama's inauguration ball gown.
The gown was made of a creamy white chiffon with one-shoulder covered in fluffy appliqués and beading. Overnight, Wu became one of the hottest names in fashion. Today, that gown is in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington for their First Lady fashions collections.
Isabel Toledo, who was 47-year-old at the time, is a Cuban-American designer. She was born Isabel Izquierdo in Cuba where she lived until she was 8-year-old. Toledo grew up in West New York and attended Memorial High School. The first lady kicked off the Inauguration Day donning a pale yellow wool lace with matching overcoat with matching green pumps, and a diamond brooch. “The outfit was made for Michelle with extra warm linings sewn into the interlinings. So that she wouldn’t freeze,” Toledo announced.
The first lady is no stranger to Toledo. Toledo previously made the dress the First Lady wore at a June 2008 Vogue event. Toledo didn’t design the dress specifically for Michelle Obama, nor did she sell it directly to her. Obama bought it at Ikram, a Chicago store that sells Toledo’s clothes. Toledo said in October that she was contacted by the Obama representatives.
Chocolate City is unable to confirm what appears to be a rumor floating around the blogosphere that designers including Barbara Tfank, Derek Lam, Narciso Rodriguez, Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors and Marchesa were all asked to provide samples of possible outfits that the First Lady might wear during the inauguration events. Also, White House Black Market, a brand the First Lady has worn in the past, launched an inauguration-inspired collection of dresses which added them to the speculation of possible contender.
Meanwhile, the First Lady is not without her critics of fashion police who criticize her every move. Oscar De la Renta, who has dressed every First Lady since Betty Ford, and who was a favorite of Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton during their respective years in the White House, has repeatedly and publicly criticized the First Lady's style. In 2009, he said the First Lady made the wrong call in wearing a cardigan to meet the Queen, which he considered too informal. The Queen of England, by the way, is a figurehead of the British Commonwealth and has no political power but is an old fashion icon.