All good things must come to an end, as they say, and last night both Barack Obama’s presidency and his wife’s years as first lady came full circle. At the president’s farewell speech, Michelle Obama donned a dress by American designer Jason Wu, poignantly wrapping up her years as America’s most beloved modern style icon.
The choice of designer was significant. Back in 2009, when President Obama was first elected to office, Michelle wore a dress by the then 26-year-old Wu, at the time a relatively unknown designer, to her first Inaugural Ball with the president. It was a white, one-shouldered silk chiffon gown covered with Swarovski crystals and organza flowers, a dress Wu said he needed four friends to help create by hand.
He told reporters at the time, “I wanted the dress to reflect hope, fantasy, a dream [because] this is a pretty surreal moment we’re living in.”
Since then Wu has skyrocketed to success, thanks in no small part to the first lady’s choice to wear his dress on that historic night, and to continue wearing his designs regularly since.
Which brings us to the final POTUS speech. Looking chic as ever, yet decidedly somber, Michelle once again took the stage with her husband and one of their daughters, 18-year-old Malia (Sasha stayed home to prepare for an exam the next morning), in a custom dress by Wu. She paired the black dress, featuring long sleeves and a delicate lace overlay, with black pointy-toe pumps and delicate jewels for a polished look true to FLOTUS’ personal style.
Viewed next to the president’s dark suit and Malia’s two-tone black and white frock, the family’s look possessed an undeniable funerary quality — appropriate, perhaps, for the end of such a beloved presidency.
In his speech, Obama tearfully thanked his wife for her years as first lady, saying, “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side. For the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role that you didn’t ask for, and you made it your own. With grace and with grit and with style and with good humor.”
Your words couldn’t be truer, Mr. President. Farewell to this incredible family.