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December 11, 2008 1:33 PM

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Chasing Michelle Obama's Wardrobe

Inauguration sketch by Oscar de la Renta Every four years, and sometimes more often, I get in a First Lady frenzy. First of all, because WWD is eager to get the news before anyone else: How will she be...


Inauguration sketch by Oscar de la Renta

Every four years, and sometimes more often, I get in a First Lady frenzy. First of all, because WWD is eager to get the news before anyone else: How will she be dressed for the inauguration ceremony and the subsequent balls? What designer will she choose? Will it be the tried and trues like Oscar and Carolina or will, suddenly, a heretofore unknown name pop up from, say Dallas, Little Rock or Chicago...like Maria Pinto. Will a "new" talent be launched in a singular sweep?

This time around, I wondered, even before the election results were in, "What will Michelle Obama wear?" There's no cookie-cutter answer. But almost everyone wanted to throw in their proverbial hat. Many designers told me they have -- requested or not -- submitted sketches directly to the White House. In the weeks after Election Day, the new First Lady-to-be has been seen in everything from J. Crew to Narciso Rodriguez, Maria Pinto and Zero + Maria Cornejo. Clearly she is not committed to big name/big price ticket designers, nor is she stuck in a particular style. Rather, her persona is independent and self-confident -- which just heightens the pitch for those eager to dress her. 

And since everything Obama is a source of excitement and curiosity, who could resist our request to see their vision for the big day? Admittedly, it sometimes took lots of encouraging phone calls to designers who imagined they might be hurting their chances to be the one finally chosen for the big day. More often, though, it took just an e-mail to get a resounding "We'd love to do it!" 

After all, here was a First Lady who, with her style, presence and elegance, holds all the promise of becoming an icon like Jackie O. I think the enthusiasm was as much about Michelle Obama's fashion potential as about what she's already worn.

So the drawings started pouring in -- too many for the nine pages slated for the project. We were also eager to see what children's clothing designers thought about what the girls might wear for the big day, so reached out to children's wear designers as well.

And, clearly, readers were curious, with more than 4 million hits on the feature on WWD.com.

But, of course, it isn't only a lady's day. So, come Monday, WWD will be taking a look at what designers believe the President-elect should wear. What's next, the presidential dog?
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