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First lady's state dinner gown by Carolina Herrera



By CARYN ROUSSEAU

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.

Join the discussion

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jamesdynajim February 12 2014 at 12:24 PM

LET THEM EAT CAKE!!....'nuff said

Flag Reply +11 rate up
cutlassv8 February 12 2014 at 12:47 PM

And the honeymoon goes on!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Craig cutlassv8 February 12 2014 at 12:52 PM

From the looks of that dress, looks like if she bent over we would see a full moon. :)

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Jan February 12 2014 at 12:48 PM

I love her wig.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
sallywieck February 12 2014 at 12:48 PM

No, no, no. Ok at top but skirt makes her look she is going to her first high school prom. Michelle is too big to be wearing "big". Should have been straight line cut.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
victoriacoventry sallywieck June 05 2014 at 3:50 AM

I have to agree. I love FLOTUS but that dress does make her hips look bigger than they are.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
myfunball February 12 2014 at 1:05 PM

Same goes for the left. I just can't imagine it is just another day

Flag Reply +4 rate up
onlyinmyusa February 12 2014 at 1:23 PM

Is this some kind of a joke? Wow... hilarious!!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
hman570 onlyinmyusa February 12 2014 at 1:32 PM

That's what I say

Flag Reply 0 rate up
hark4109 February 12 2014 at 1:23 PM

She looks lovely (I guess??) but no matter what, she was very arrogant about her attitude towards the USA till Obama became president. Just another feeloader as I see it, wonder what we paid for that dress, I know what we pay for her trips!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
victoriacoventry hark4109 June 05 2014 at 3:50 AM

Do you? The president gets paid $400,000/yr. and you think he needs taxpayer money to take trips? Give me a break! Stop hating! If you can't afford what they can afford, that's your problem and not theirs.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
mteleryfrm February 12 2014 at 1:39 PM

Good grief...where are the Queen's jewels and Tiara? Instead of having great parties and fiddling while Rome burns...could someone please do something about this sinking economy. It is going south fast !

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Judi February 12 2014 at 1:39 PM

How much did that cost us Michelle ? With that and your vacations do you think you might find some of the tax payers money to feed our hungry children in the United States of America. It must be wonderful to live the way you and your family live on us the tax payer, but there is a God Michelle and he sees all, so have fun.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
5 replies
frandinii February 12 2014 at 1:40 PM

$ 18,000 dollar dress .....
no kidding

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
victoriacoventry frandinii June 05 2014 at 3:48 AM

And your point would be what? That you can't afford to spend that kind of money on clothes and you're pissed about it? If so, BUILD A BRIDGE AND GET OVER IT! LOL

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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