Michelle Obama Makes a Statement With Another Jason Wu Inaugural Gown

The First Lady chose a dress by the same designer she wore in 2009.
President Obama and Mrs. Obama last night. Photograph by Erin Keane.

One thing so many love about
Michelle Obama’s wardrobe is her tendency to
bring attention to the little guys—her 2009 inaugural
debut in a dazzling Jason Wu chiffon gown catapulted the
otherwise unknown designer
to fame, earning him multiple A-list clients and a
collaboration with Target,

among other feats.

So when
Women’s Wear Daily published an alleged shortlist

of designers for the First Lady’s second inaugural ballgown, we
were so excited to
see younger names—Prabal Gurung and Thakoon, to name a
couple—in the running alongside
top labels like Marchesa and Narciso Rodriguez. Cue our
ultra-high hopes for an equally
mind-blowing jewel-toned gown that would expose the stellar
talents of the lesser
known, and, much like Michelle’s amazing Thom Browne coat at
the morning’s inauguration
ceremony, surpass that of 2009.

But we were, dare we say, not all that impressed by the First Lady’s choice this time
around. We’d been talking about Michelle’s appearance at the ball for days, but with
a repeated designer and a comparatively simple overall look, the monumental reveal
wasn’t nearly as exciting as we’d anticipated.

While there’s no doubting the dress—a custom-made chiffon and velvet gown by
Jason Wu
—was

perfectly beautiful, and its shimmering velvet details
spectacular (word is that Wu
recruited jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald to help craft the
keyhole neckline with
real diamonds), we can’t say its single tone and relatively
simple silhouette outdid
the one-sleeved stunner of inauguration number one. As a whole,
we expected more.

We’re not the only ones: Washington-based fashion critic
Robin Givhan

mentioned on CNN
Monday night that she’s “gobsmacked” by the
First Lady’s choice, noting
that she usually “spreads the love around” when it comes to
choosing designers and
made a “safe choice, because there’s so much pressure on the
inaugural gown to be
this iconic dress.”

Though she didn’t wow us with her gown, Michelle Obama succeeded in making a bold
statement—not unlike her husband’s tone in the inauguration speech just hours earlier—that
she’s found what she likes and, for better or worse, she’s sticking to it. Props to
her. And even more props to second-time winner Jason Wu.

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