From the start of his first presidential campaign, it didn’t take long for Barack Obama to become an icon in popular culture as much as in politics, thanks to the outspoken support of numerous Hollywood A-listers and other boldface names. Among such fans was, somewhat surprisingly, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Following lavish events—some of which raised upward of $1 million at a time and were cohosted by such names as Sarah Jessica Parker and Harvey Weinstein—the Devil Wears Prada muse climbed the charts to become the Obamas’ fourth-biggest fundraiser. That extravagance continues this year with the announcement of another political event: a $32,000-a-head dinner to benefit the Democratic National Committee at Wintour’s Greenwich Village townhome, at which the President and First Lady will be the guests of honor. The event is scheduled for June 17.
The fundraiser marks the second major event of the year in the ongoing Obama-Wintour relationship; early this month, the First Lady cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center.
It’s no secret that the Obamas have a longstanding relationship with Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. With two magazine covers dedicated to the First Lady and glitzy, Wintour-hosted political fundraisers all over the world, the iconic EIC and creative director of Condé Nast has more than proven her allegiance to Barack Obama’s White House.
Roles reversed Monday when the First Lady made a trip to New York to place Wintour in the spotlight. Right on the heels of one of DC’s most fashion-packed yearly events—the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (to which FLOTUS donned a stunning one-sleeve Marchesa gown)—Michelle Obama made an appearance at the opening of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at Manhattan's Metroplitan Museum of Art, just hours before the museum kicks off its infamous annual gala.
“I’m so impressed by Anna’s contributions not just to fashion but to this great museum,” said Obama, dressed in a printed Naeem Khan dress and addressing a star-studded crowd featuring such fashion A-listers as Grace Coddington, Donatella Versace, Franca Sozzani, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
After cutting the ribbion inaugurate the museum’s new $40 million wing, Obama went on to describe a student-focused “fashion workshop” she plans to organize with Wintour at the White House—a step in the right direction for DC’s growing rep as a fashion capital: “The idea [behind the workshop] is to show young people what it takes to succeed and how important it is for them to commit to their education. Anna understands that those of us who have been blessed with opportunities to succeed have an obligation to reach back and bring others along with us, and not just with words and praise but with meaningful sustained support.”
The inauguration is fast approaching, and Michelle Obama isn’t the only one who wants to wear a beautiful dress to the ball. We’ve combed stores for the best gowns for all figures, occasions, and budgets and come up with several great options. Whether you’re headed to an official ball, a gala, or just a great party in your friend’s backyard (heated, we hope!), you’re sure to find something fabulous in our list.
If you’re headed to an inaugural event, chances are your outfit is a significant portion of your budget. After all, you want to remember the historic occasion with a similarly historic wardrobe choice.
>> See our Frugal Fashionista: Inauguration Outfit for Under $200
For those still in search of the perfect look, we asked Alison Lukes, fashion consultant and the force behind Alison Lukes et Cie, about the do’s and don’ts of this inaugural season.
As Washingtonians frantically finalize plans for inaugural activities, over at Frugal Fashionista we’ve been brainstorming ideas for a swoon-worthy outfit for less than the price of most inaugural tickets. And who better to enlist for the task than former Miss DC and K Street Kate blogger Kate Michael? The pageant queen and model knows a thing (or 30) about dressing up, but she admits to frequently dropping more than a few Benjamins on dresses and shoes.
Before we got started, Michael was rattling off questions like a pro: Long or short? Was a bag included? Were any stores off limits? Even better, she was offering advice. It turns out that many of her pageant gowns, despite their black-tie formality, can’t be worn to events such as a ball—mostly because they have a train, which would rip or be soiled in a large crowd.
So we made the task hard for this veteran shopper—$200, no more, for a full inaugural-ball-worthy outfit that she herself would consider sporting to an upcoming event.
As far as rules go, we assumed that Michael was searching for a dress she’d wear herself but that her wardrobe was admittedly more limited than it is. We assumed she owned basic undergarments and tights—but nothing fancy.
Here’s what she found:
Inaugural balls are places to see and be seen. But, oh, the horror of showing up in the same dress somebody else is wearing!
Enter DressRegistry.com. It’s a Web site that allows you to “register” your dress for an inaugural event in hopes that no one else will wear the same one.
As of this writing, there are 55 balls listed on the site. Some, like the recently-announced Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, have no dresses claimed. But others have more than a dozen. The Commander-in-Chief Ball, for example, has 21 dresses registered.
Posters on the site have the option to include details about their garb, such as the designer, color, length, and neckline. For the seriously Type-A partygoer, there’s also space to enter your dress’s UPC number, the code that specifically identifies it, leaving no question as to which dress you’re wearing. To further clarify, a description and a photo can be added.