Obama Inauguration '09: Pomp, Circumstance and Celebs

From the massive crowds to President Barack Obama’s rousing speech promising “We will act,” hope was the resounding theme of yesterday's inauguration.

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Oprah Winfrey arrives on the inaugural stage.

Photo By Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Michelle Obama has certainly shown a knack for diplomacy when it comes to fashion. So much so that even a few of the designers she has worn have been caught completely off guard. Wu, Toledo, J. Crew, Maria Cornejo and accessories designer Loree Rodkin only learned their respective designs had made the final cut once the First Lady wore them. A confidentiality agreement prohibited Rodkin from elaborating about Obama’s choices, though WWD reported Monday that her white gold and diamond quatrefoil chandelier earrings with black diamond centers that Obama wore Sunday retail for $17,313. The First Lady is believed to have borrowed them from Ikram.

While Obama wore Rodkin earrings twice over the holiday weekend, the designer scored a trifecta when Obama wore another pair of earrings, as well as a ring and bracelet, at the inaugural balls. “Let’s put it this way: If she winds up in any of my pieces tonight, my jewelry ends up in the Smithsonian. That’s the finest pinnacle any one of us can wish for,” said Rodkin earlier in the day.

Fellow Cuban-American designer Narciso Rodriguez was equally excited. Michelle Obama wore two of the designer’s outfits on Sunday after previously dressing her on Election Night. “She is such an elegant woman, and that speaks volumes about her,” Rodriguez said. “It’s something that comes very natural to her and she makes the choices she likes, and therefore always looks very comfortable and very right.”

And it isn’t only Michelle Obama who has designers hopeful. The newly minted vice president’s wife, Jill Biden, also can hold her own in the fashion department. Biden, who modeled on the side in college for extra cash, has a keen sense for what complements her physique. She is known to support independently owned Wilmington, Del.-area boutiques, with Tory Burch, Milly, Diane von Furstenberg, Nanette Lepore and Robert Rodriguez being among her favorite labels. Biden isn’t above borrowing if need be. Ellie’s owner Donna Schneiber loaned Biden a few Sayami scarves from her own closet for the inaugural weekend, since the Greenville store had already sold out of that resource.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Biden went with an off-the-rack $360 Milly houndstooth roll-neck dress with a Fleurette coat. Milly designer Michelle Smith said, “As an American designer with a tradition of manufacturing my collection in the U.S., I was humbled to see my dress on such a chic and sophisticated Second Lady.”

Biden also didn’t cut any corners for the inaugural balls, buying a red strapless Reem Acra dress from a store — not the designer.

So with a young, fashionable First Couple and a chic vice president’s wife, the new administration — which also includes such fashion-conscious members as social secretary Desirée Rogers and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett — has the fashion industry eager to become involved with Washington politicians in a way it hasn’t in decades. The nation’s capital, once scorned by the fashion set, is now embraced by it with open arms.

“To have a First Lady who loves fashion, and who is promoting American designers, is so important and we need that so much, with the way the economy has impacted fashion, and everybody trying to make their way through it,” said Rodriguez.

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