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First lady's state dinner gown by Carolina Herrera


Michelle Obama chose a Venezuelan-American designer for the gown she wore Tuesday to the state dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande.

But the formal, ornate style of the sumptuous gown by Carolina Herrera reflected French aesthetics, from the intricate beaded black bodice, to the train and full skirt in a color called liberty blue, according to Susan Swimmer, author of "Michelle Obama: First Lady of Fashion and Style."

"From the White House to Versailles it's not that far," said Swimmer, who is also contributing fashion features editor for More magazine. "It's much more keeping in a French aesthetic than I've seen her wear before. It's very French in terms of how ornate it is and the use of lace and the velvet sash."

The gown featured a black, hand-sewn beaded embroidery applique scallop-edged top that came to Obama's elbows. The top went over a blue silk faille corset and long skirt with a train that billowed behind the first lady as she walked with President Barack Obama. It was matched with a black velvet belt. The color also echoed the blue color that both countries share in their flags.

First Lady's State Dinner Gown by Carolina Herrera

The White House confirmed it was a Herrera gown and Herrera took credit in a news release saying she made the dress at her New York atelier.

The first lady, however, is known for wearing silhouettes that are more sleek and glamorous. Take, for example, the strapless and sequined custom-made Naeem Khan column gown she wore to the state dinner for India in 2009.

Tuesday evening's dress had a vibe that was more couture and elegant, said Kate Betts, author of "Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style."

"It's a very stately dress especially for her because she usually wears something much more streamlined," Betts said.

The dress also did something that's a bit of a rarity. It covered Michelle Obama's famously toned arms.

"I don't know that she's ever worn sleeves for a formal occasion," Swimmer said. "Why would she? She's got fabulous arms!"

The first lady had the fashion spotlight to herself during the evening's events. That's because Hollande was without a date after a very public breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler. It meant the American president's wife was the center of attention, seated next to the tuxedoed French leader.

Michelle Obama is no stranger to Herrera's work. She's worn the designer before, as recently as a September luncheon in New York for the spouses of foreign dignitaries.

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lori.lett February 28 2014 at 6:58 AM

I want to know if we paid the $12,000 for that tent with lace. The top was nice. The rest looked like she got wrapped up in tarp! HORRIBLE.

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kenmare44kathy February 26 2014 at 1:36 PM

She looks fabulous. And First Ladies buy their own clothes. We'd be better served making congress pay for their own healthcare and cut off their govt funds once they leave office. They are the ones abusing the welfare system.

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Marina February 24 2014 at 10:01 PM

It's like a train rack ..... You just have to look....

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MARY February 24 2014 at 7:27 PM

Classy woman in a classic gown!

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cward8510 February 21 2014 at 8:33 PM

FLOTUS, Mrs. Obama looked elegant and regal. The dress was just stunning and so was she. The individuals that made such unkind comments you seem to demonstrate the behavior of the ugly American. As high school students we learned about this type of characterization in history and advance literature courses. You truly demonstrate the behavior of a KKK individual that is so filled with hate they cannot see or feel the sun on their face or see that the sky is blue. You say you love America and you continue spew this kind of ugly talk you are not the epitome of an American Patriot. When a person of color is following the proper protocol and etiquette that a US President and the first lady do in entertaining dignitaries they are constantly critcized. Anyone can handle constructive criticism that will improve a situation. But not just spewing hate for hate sake. Did anyone ever counsel you that if you can't say something good about someone then just don't say anything at all. Ones views may be totally opposite of the President but you don't need to use file and vile words to voice your opposition or protests. People are reading and listening to your rants. You may not like the current administration but you need to respect the Presidency.

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julie February 20 2014 at 7:10 PM

Michelle is the best ever.. could she be the next president ?

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2 replies to julie's comment
c.biter February 24 2014 at 3:28 PM

Oh, GOD! Let's hope not!

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oshunchild5 March 26 2014 at 3:27 PM

Not the next but in 2020. Remember I said it here first!!!

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Sandy Amrhein February 18 2014 at 5:10 PM

Why has nobody mentioned that we have paid $12,000 for that dress!

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me February 18 2014 at 5:09 PM

That gown looks lousy! Doesn't she have any mirrors? She has a nice shape, but that dress hides any positive attributes she has. I guess she just figures a famous name on the dress makes any dress attractive. An fitting example of the "emperor's wife's" lack of taste.

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monyakenny February 18 2014 at 4:25 PM

She looks like an oil spill. A BIG one.

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Wayne February 17 2014 at 2:24 PM

She has better taste in dresses than she does in men...

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1 reply to Wayne's comment
oshunchild5 March 26 2014 at 3:31 PM

Wayne, "Me" and moneyakenny, are you always so hateful? Did u ever learn that if u have nothing nice to say, say nothing. Try being positive in your outlook, words and deeds and you will begin to love yourselves.

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