From the millions who crowded the Mall here as far as the eye could see to President Barack Obama’s rousing speech promising “We will act” to the tiniest little detail — such as the color of First Lady Michelle Obama’s day coat and dress by Isabel Toledo — that was the resounding theme of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday. Even Jason Wu’s ivory, one-shouldered goddess gown with crystal-beaded embroidery and rosette appliqués worn by Michelle Obama to the official inaugural balls seemed to emote optimism.
The new First Family somehow managed to remain completely in control of the event — not releasing details of who designed the First Lady’s outfits until after she was in the public eye, for example — and also act natural even as the eyes of the world were upon them. From laughing together as the First Couple strode down Pennsylvania Avenue in the cold to their children Malia and Sasha being bored and playing during the swearing-in’s musical interlude — it was clear there was a new game in town.
And it’s a game the fashion world, for one, can’t wait to play.
“I needed to do this,” said Toledo of dressing Michelle Obama for the afternoon ceremonies on Capitol Hill and beyond. “I really wanted to make her glow. I wanted to make her look luminous. I felt it was my duty.”
The designer said she was pleased the First Lady was willing to go with lemongrass, “a hopeful color that is so to the core of the beginning of things.
“It could have been blue, red and more in keeping with tradition, but I really felt we could do something different,” said Toledo.
The Obamas seem determined to do things their way all around. On Tuesday, the equally fashionable — and image-conscious — President proudly wore a cashmere topcoat said to be by Brooks Brothers (in another subtle nod to his love of Abraham Lincoln, who also wore Brooks Brothers at his inaugural) and an American-made Hart Schaffner Marx suit and Cole Haan shoes — as well as a custom Hart Shaffner Marx tuxedo to the evening’s inaugural balls. His wife, meanwhile, doesn’t hesitate to mix high and low. Sure, she wore the Swiss wool Isabel Toledo dress and coat lined with pashmina tulle for warmth and Jimmy Choo shoes on the historic day, but the evening before donned a J. Crew ensemble for the Kids’ Inaugural Ball, where her daughters wore the brand’s Crewcuts coats to jive to the Jonas Brothers. They wore Crewcuts coats on Tuesday as well, while Sasha wore the brand’s dress.
“Not just for fashion, but for the U.S. right now, it’s sort of an instantaneous connector,” said J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons Mazeau. “Most people in this country can afford to wear something by J. Crew, or probably they know what J. Crew is, and that is pretty amazing when you think that the First Lady can wear anything she wants….She actually picks something people know.
“I think that to me is a true testament to the kind of person she and her husband are. They are people of the people.”
That was a comment echoed by others. Toledo is far from a household name, yet Lyons Mazeau praised the choice because it shows Michelle Obama “doesn’t need validation from anyone. She really is the validator.”
Toledo said her day of reckoning “almost didn’t happen” due to the tight turnaround time. After her proposed design was green-lighted following her submission of several possible ideas for the big day, she called her fabric contractor on a Saturday to see if he could even get the wool lace. The factory in Switzerland agreed, but then the expediency of shipping became another factor. Once that hurdle was passed, Toledo’s 10-person team rolled up their sleeves, toiling through the holidays and logging overtime without question — even though it wasn’t certain the First Lady would even wear it. They knew only on Tuesday, just like the rest of the world.
“It really was an international effort. The fabric was from Switzerland and we are all immigrants,” she said with a laugh.
After briefly meeting Michelle Obama at a fashion industry event last summer, Toledo felt compelled to dress her. “The few seconds I met her I felt so inspired,” Toledo said.
The designer said she has been working closely with Ikram in Chicago, the retailer that appears to be the gatekeeper of the new First Lady’s fashion choices, and Obama had purchased her clothes in the past. But as much as the designer hoped to be among the chosen on Tuesday, she wasn’t banking on anything for certain.
“I’ve been working for this moment. One of the reasons I am still around is because of knowing that things can happen. And also knowing that if she had had a change of heart, other things would happen,” Toledo said. “I am just happy that she loves the work and loved it enough for me to be part if this.”
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)