LONDON — Britain has caught Michelle-O-mania.
With her plain talk, pearl necklace and all-American fashion taste, America’s First Lady wowed the Brits like no other since Jacqueline Kennedy during the Obamas visit to the capital that officially began Wednesday. From the moment she stepped off Air Force One in her Jason Wu chartreuse sheath dress on Tuesday night, Michelle Obama had the famously fickle British press oohing and aahing.
“A razzle dazzling performance from the mighty Michelle,” roared London’s Evening Standard in a headline Wednesday. The newspaper’s cover carried a full-page photo of the Obamas waving alongside Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah, and the headline “Welcome Mr. Prez.”
Even Britain’s Press Association — a wire service that usually reports stories in a staid, neutral tone — melted in her wake. “Mrs. Obama looked dazzling in a sequined champagne cardigan paired with a mint pencil skirt, both from American midmarket brand J. Crew,” said one report Wednesday morning.
It added: “Mrs. Obama did not put a foot wrong in low-heeled animal skin print heels and her signature pearls.”
The Times of London’s fashion department’s Twitter site called Obama’s cardigan “spring incarnate,” and told Brown — who was dressed in a navy blue suit by London-based designer Britt Lintner — to “lighten up, love.”
A Reuters blog carried the headline, “Michelle sparkles as hostess Sarah plays it safe,” and chided Brown for her lack of sartorial confidence, which has never been a hallmark of British prime ministers’ wives to begin with.
Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s creative director, obviously was pleased at the First Lady’s fashion choices. “The topic of conversation is really the economy. It’s appropriate and also sends a message that she is wearing something from a brand that is approachable and known by American consumers, and a brand that people can be a part of.”