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FLOTUS’s personal makeup artist dishes on her beauty routine. By Kate Bennett

Official White House photograph by Chuck Kennedy.

The First Family is off for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, but Michelle Obama didn’t leave town without lessons learned from her makeup artist, Carl Ray, who has worked with FLOTUS for the past six and a half years. “I’ve been changing up her looks and makeup textures according to the seasons, as well as the location of her appearances, since I started as her personal makeup artist,” says Ray, who is one of Washington’s most sought-after beauty gurus. When it comes to inspiration for the beauty looks, Ray incorporates the cultures, style, and surroundings of wherever the First Lady is traveling, be it a trip to China or a day at the beach. 

As for Mrs. Obama’s Vineyard getaway, Ray says FLOTUS isn’t overly made up. “She’s not trying to look totally glam. But polished and comfortable? Yes.” Ray cites Obama’s flawless skin as a great starting point. “I recommend drinking plenty of water, doing a light exfoliation, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.” Not a problem for the First Lady—or for her daughters. “Malia and Sasha know this, too, and have heard me say the recipe hundreds of times!” says Ray, who is based at George Salon at The Four Seasons when he’s not with Mrs. Obama. 

Ray recommends glosses like this pink one from his line.

Here are his five top tips for getting the First Lady’s summer makeup look: 

  1. “Sunscreen and moisturizer are a must—year-round. I like to use BB creams or tinted moisturizers for hot summer months. Most are available in a variety of different shades, and some have SPF built in.” 
  2. “Instead of bold or dramatic lip color, for vacation go with a sheer lipstick or gloss; again, there are plenty on the market that have an SPF component.” 
  3. “For that sunkissed glow, you can’t go wrong with a bronzer. Focus on your cheeks, but don’t shy away from a treating your entire face to a flushed, tan look with a few quick brush strokes.”
  4. “Swap out the darkened lashes and just go with one quick coat of waterproof mascara.”
  5. “Eyebrows are key. Don’t overlook the power of a great brow. Brush the hairs in an upward direction, and lightly fill in the brows with a pencil that matches your natural color.”

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 08/14/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Vogue’s powerful editor is hosting another pro-Democrat fundraiser. By Diana Elbasha
Anna Wintour is Barack Obama's fourth-biggest fundraiser. Photograph via lev radin /

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 Weinsteinthe 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. 

Posted at 02:13 PM/ET, 05/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Only two Washington residents made Vanity Fair’s “best dressed” list, and they were an obvious pick. By Carol Ross Joynt
Though not Washington residents, Katharine McPhee (left) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (right) both made the list. Photographs by Rena Schild /

Vanity Fair magazine, arbiter of the International Best Dressed List, has released its choices for the best dressed attendees at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, held Saturday at the Washington Hilton. Only two DC residents made the cut: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. We know Washington is famous for being low on the fashion scale, but really, only two (and an obvious two) out of more than 2,000 dinner guests, most of them locals?

In fairness to the salaried media scribes and Hill and government wonks who are the dinner’s base, it’s not easy to match the big-bucks looks of actresses Lupita Nyong’o (in Oscar de la Renta) and Sofia Vergara (in Romona Keveza), to name two who made the list. Besides, there’s a good chance they were dressed by stylists in gowns that were made available courtesy of a design house.

A suggestion for Vanity Fair: If the publication returns next year to attend and cover the dinner, maybe level the playing field and have one list of out-of-towners and another of bona-fide Washingtonians.

Here’s who else made the list of WHCAD best dressed: Freida Pinto (Thakoon), AnnaSophia RobbRonan Farrow, Taylor Schilling (Zuhair Murad), Olivia Munn (J. Mendel), Katharine McPhee (Paule Ka), Tony Goldwyn (Brooks Brothers), and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Antonio Berardi). The First Lady wore Marchesa.

Posted at 02:03 PM/ET, 05/06/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
America’s most powerful forces in politics and fashion reunite. By Diana Elbasha
According to the First Lady's speech today, Michelle Obama and Anna Wintour may soon be hosting a fashion workshop for students at the White House. Photograph by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

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 eventsthe 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 Housea 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.”

Posted at 04:42 PM/ET, 05/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here’s what he bought. By Diana Elbasha
Barack Obama stopped by a Gap store on Manhattan's 42nd Street earlier this week. Photograph by Tupungato /

Last month, timeless retail giant Gap made a bold statement by announcing it would raise its minimum hourly wage to $10 for its 60,000 hourly workers nationwide. The move came as uplifting news to employees of countless Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta stores in the US, but they’re not the only ones impressed: The American brand also caught the attention of the President.

Barack Obama showed his support for Gap’s new salary initiative—which falls right in line with a Democratic effort to raise the federal minimum wage by 2016—by visiting its flagship location in midtown Manhattan this week, cracking jokes with employees and even doing a little shopping. He spent $155 on goodies for his family, including a blue track jacket for Michelle and cotton sweaters for Sasha and Malia. He opted for cardigans for the girls over Gap’s signature V-neck sweaters, joking that he didn’t want the necklines to “slip” while his daughters wore them. “I think they’d be impressed by my style sense,” he said of the picks.

Posted at 04:06 PM/ET, 03/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Namely, Michelle Obama’s gorgeous Carolina Herrera gown. By Diana Elbasha
Michelle Obama stunned at Tuesday's State Dinner by wearing a custom-made Carolina Herrera gown. Photograph by Evan Vucci/AP.

Try as we might, no one does black tie in this town better than Michelle Obama.

The First Lady stunned at last night’s White House’s dinner honoring French President François Hollande in a custom-made, powder-blue-and-black gown by Carolina Herrera—a powerhouse label for elegant eveningwear and a favorite of such high-profile clients as Sofia Vergara and Anna Wintour. Mrs. Obama has worn the Venezuelan designer on several occasions, including during a trip to Berlin last year.

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Posted at 11:22 AM/ET, 02/12/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The First Daughter was seen primping before a dance at Sidwell. By Diana Elbasha
Did she go sleek, like at the inaugural ceremonies? Photograph via White House Flickr feed.

Apparently we’re not the only fans of the California-based blow-dry salon. A tipster tells Washingtonian that President Obama’s 15-year-old daughter, Malia, had her hair done this weekend at Drybar on Bethesda Row.

The First Daughter was seen at the chic locale Saturday afternoon, reportedly dancing around the salon with a group of girlfriends from Sidwell Friends School. There’s no word on what style she requested—we happen to think she’d look beautiful with a side-parted Cosmo—but we do know the girls were prepping for the school’s annual Valentine’s Day dance that evening.

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Posted at 10:41 AM/ET, 02/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A look back at the First Lady’s most stylish moments from the past 12 months. By Diana Elbasha
Michelle Obama stunned America last February by making a video cameo at the Oscars, where she wore an embellished Naeem Khan gown. Photograph via the official White House Flickr.

She makes headlines across the world by sporting a new hairstyle, sends crowds to the mall to get their hands on her accessories, and shatters the stigma of a fashionless Washington with her gala attire. It goes without saying at this point that Michelle Obama is a major style icon. From White House business meetings to black-tie affairs to pop-culture appearances, the First Lady always finds a way to wow us with her bold taste in designers and all-around fashion-forward wardrobe. In honor of her birthday, here’s a look back at some the most eye-catching fashion moments of her 50th year.

All photographs via the official White House Flickr, unless otherwise noted.

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Posted at 05:36 PM/ET, 01/17/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
As he prepares to show his new collection in Washington, the fashion wunderkind talks femininity, balancing projects, and dressing the First Lady. By Kate Bennett

All photographs courtesy of Jason Wu.

In 2009, Jason Wu was just baby-stepping into the fashion world when Michelle Obama put his designs on global display, wearing his ivory one-shoulder gown with appliqué to President Obama’s first inaugural ball. In January, when Mrs. Obama opted once again for a Wu inaugural dress, this time a red velvet and chiffon number, it was clear the Taiwanese-born, New York-based fashion designer was one of the First Lady’s favorites—and now a bona fide star in the industry. (FLOTUS also wore a red and black Wu dress to February’s State of the Union address.) Wu will be in Chevy Chase on April 11 for a trunk show and appearance at Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as to host his fall 2013 ready-to-wear collection on the runway at the third annual Great Ladies’ Luncheon, which will take place in a New York Fashion Week-inspired tent being constructed in the parking area adjacent to the store. Prior to his visit, we had the opportunity to chat with Wu about inspiration for his new collection and why no one ever tells the First Lady what to wear.

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Posted at 12:50 PM/ET, 04/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Wearing a striking sleeveless dress, the First Lady dishes with the President in the magazine’s April issue. By Kate Bennett
First Lady Michelle Obama appears on the cover of Vogue for the second time. On the right, one of the spreads from the magazine feature. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz/Vogue.

Sporting bangs and baring her signature toned arms, Michelle Obama graces the April cover of Vogue magazine in a deep blue, V-neck Reed Krakoff dress from her personal collection. Perched on a piece of furniture, against a vibrant green backdrop, Mrs. Obama looks poised, modern, and comfortable—and seasonally on trend; the dress even has a punch of eggplant, one of spring’s hottest hues. Her personal hair and makeup team of Johnny Wright and Carl Ray, respectively, handled her beauty looks—a testament to Mrs. Obama’s loyalty to her own camp. Wright and Ray have both worked with the First Lady for several years, and both are locally based—Wright at Immortal Beloved, and Ray at George at the Four Seasons Salon.

In the accompanying profile, Mrs. Obama, who was last on Vogue’s cover in 2009, and her husband talk parenting, fashion, and marital strength with writer Jonathan Van Meter, who played off the couple’s affection for one another, something that didn’t go unnoticed by other members of the Vogue team during the two-day shoot, which took place at the White House in January (as we first reported). “There’s a lot of huggin’ going on,” noted famed photographer Annie Leibovitz at one point during the session with the Obamas, wherein Mrs. Obama drapes herself across the side of an arm chair for an embrace with her husband, as he casually rests his arm on her lap.

As for her sartorial advice, Mrs. Obama tells Van Meter: “I always say that women should wear whatever makes them feel good about themselves. That’s what I always try to do.” The First Lady obviously feels good about Krakoff, an American designer frequently on her wardrobe rotation, most recently at her husband’s swearing-in ceremony in January, for which she selected another of the designer’s blue dresses. For the other photographs in the Vogue story, Mrs. Obama reportedly wore a Michael Kors sweater and ballgown ensemble. The April issue of Vogue hits newsstands on March 26.

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 03/14/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()