The worst-kept secret in fashion is out: Vogue’s March issue will indeed feature First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover. Annie Leibovitz photographed Obama at the Hay-Adams Hotel during the presidential inauguration, making her the second First Lady to be a cover subject, following Hillary Rodham Clinton in December 1998, also shot by Leibovitz.
Obama appears in a vibrant pink Jason Wu sheath for her cover turn, the second time she’s chosen to wear Wu for a high-profile public appearance. She chose a long white Wu gown for the inaugural balls on Jan. 20. Incidentally, Wu’s Friday fashion show is already sold out, with editors clamoring to attend the young designer’s event being wait-listed.
This story first appeared in the February 11, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It’s a wonderful achievement for Vogue,” said editor at large André Leon Talley, who interviewed Obama for an hour at the Hay-Adams Hotel a few weeks before the inauguration. Vogue has photographed the new first ladies since 1929, when the first was President Herbert Hoover’s wife, Lou Henry Hoover.
Obama’s cover portrait, said Talley, “absolutely reflects who she is without any questions. There’s such a warmth that she emanates. It’s the warmest cover you’ve seen in a long time on Vogue. Models pose, actresses pose. This is a real woman.”
For the shoot, the First Lady chose her own looks for the shoot, including a black Narciso Rodriguez dress and a J. Crew cardigan, top and skirt ensemble from the fall collection. Photos of her with President Barack Obama from the inauguration ceremonies are also featured.
The story includes interviews with Jill Biden, wife of vice president Joe Biden, and Valerie Jarrett, a longtime adviser to President Obama. In the article, Talley also reflects on his own encounters with the First Lady at Oprah Winfrey’s home and at a fund-raiser in New York he hosted last summer with Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. The story covers Obama’s role as a mother and her romance with fashion. “I love clothes. First and foremost, I wear what I love,” she said. That includes the red and black Narciso Rodriguez dress with a black cardigan she wore on Election Night, which drew some jeers from the fashion set. “I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care about it,” Obama said of the criticism. “Some will think that a sweater was horrible, [but] I was cold; I needed that sweater!”