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Obama purchased the wool crepe empire dress with sun-pleated bodice some time ago, according to the designer, who spoke via phone from her Chicago studio. Pinto said she had no idea Obama had chosen to wear the dress to the White House until she saw her on television. “That’s what I love about her,” Pinto noted. “She has things in her wardrobe, in her closet, and she’s ready to go.” Obama has at least one more Pinto design she has yet to wear publicly, a lean black cashmere number with a “cascade effect” in back. As for the future first lady’s apparent preference for dresses, Pinto noted that Obama also owns a number of the designer’s separates: “Michelle has worn suits blouses and skirts, depending when you catch her. But some of the most notable ones, when she’s been most visible, [are dresses].”
Pinto said that fashion choices “come very naturally” to Obama. “In working with clients I have found that everyone has a button,” she mused. “For some, it’s angst-driven. For others, it’s more natural. Michelle is very natural. She moves beautifully, and is naturally confident and comfortable. She knows what she looks good in but, at the same time, she’s open to suggestion.”
As to whether Obama will heed Pinto’s wardrobe advice for Jan. 20, the designer offered a polite “no comment.” However, asked if she thinks that for her inaugural gown Obama should choose a columnar variation of the simple sheaths she favors, or something a bit frothier, Pinto didn’t hesitate. “I see her sleek but with more froth,” she said. “It’s right for the moment. I don’t see her in a big, poufy ball skirt.” And, she added, “a lot from the collection is sleek, but also with embellishment.”