obama-mags


The Obamas still believe in the power of print magazines — and they’ve been showing it in a big way in recent months with cover stories and guest editing stints in an array of glossies including Wired, Glamour and Variety to name a few.

Now the president and First Lady have their sights set on the October issues of Time Inc.’s InStyle and Essence magazines to plug their various charities and to talk about the end of their time in the White House. Both issues go on sale on Sept. 16.

This story first appeared in the September 8, 2016 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

InStyle will feature Michelle Obama on its cover, while Essence was able to nab both the President Obama and the First Lady for its cover — quite the coup. Although the cross coverage wasn’t exactly planned by Time Inc., the presidential media push is timely enough as the country begins its sendoff to the first family.

For InStyle, former editorial director Ariel Foxman sat down with the First Lady to discuss her “Let Girls Learn” initiative, which aims to help girls around the world gain access to education. The First Lady has used magazines, such as Glamour, to publicize her message, and she spends a large part of her interview with Foxman talking about her initiative. The rest of the interview is devoted to Michelle Obama’s views on social media, which include the need to infuse humor into Snapchat stories, tweets and the like, and fashion. In other words, there isn’t a whole lot of news coming out of Foxman’s sit down.

Still, Obama does attest to the importance of style, offering: “It goes hand in hand for anyone who’s in the public sphere. Your first interaction with people is what they see. So you can’t take it for granted….But it’s also just as important for the wearer to be comfortable, and that has always been what drives my choices — do I feel good in this? I don’t really care what the trend is. I mean, if the trend is nice and it happens to look good…”

Accompanying the feature is a package on Obama’s best looks, and a shoot of the First Lady, who dons an embroidered silk Carolina Herrera dress and diamond and pearl Elie Top earrings. InStyle is also running a promotion in its pages supporting the “Let Girls Learn” initiative. Readers can preorder tote bags beginning Sept. 12 at Shop.Instyle.com, and the proceeds will go to the charity. The bags, which start at $52, are designed by the likes of Diane von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, Carolina Herrera and others.

Meanwhile, Essence has taken a somewhat less-service-y route in its Q&A with the first couple. Penned by editor in chief Vanessa K. De Luca, the feature addresses race, their legacy and their plans for the future. (Make no mistake, the Obamas do address “Let Girls Learn” and “My Brother’s Keeper,” an organization meant to aid young men of color reach their full potential.)

But back to the interview, in which President Obama touches on the weight that comes with being the first African-American First Family.

The couple downshifts to lighter topics, including favorite moments such as having Stevie Wonder, Prince, Beyoncé and the cast of “Hamilton” over to entertain. The First Lady also looked forward to the more mundane slices of life post-White House, including walking their own dogs down the street and “maybe a date night or two without snipers and an ambulance in our motorcade.”

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