Does Michelle Obama play favorites? Hmm, could be.
The FLOTUS made it a fashion tradition Monday night, wearing a custom halter top Jason Wu gown to the inauguration balls.
The electric-red dress was a follow-up to the white one-shouldered gown that Wu made for her four years ago that put him on the worldwide map.
Wu beat out a number of other designers vying for the honor of dressing the first fashionista on the world stage. Derek Lam, Tory Burch, Tracy Reese, Narciso Rodriguez, Naeem Khan and Thakoon were some labels reportedly in the running as well.
Wu, a Taiwan native who now calls NYC home, was apparently more surprised than anyone. After seeing Obama step out in his creation from his studio with his staff, the 30-year-old designer Tweeted: “#inshock!!!” On Today Tuesday morning Wu said he was “still pinching myself.”
The only way is up now. He recently launched a junior line, Miss Wu, at Nordstrom at the Village of Merrick Park. His red carpet garments have been worn by Diane Kruger, Jessica Pare and Emma Stone, and his Target line sold out within hours of hitting the shelves in January of last year.
Wu’s step into the contemporary market is the latest venture for the designer, who is one of few who have parlayed the media attention that comes with designing an inaugural dress into a successful career.
Isabel Toledo, who designed the famed canary yellow day coat ensemble in 2009, told The Miami Herald in December during her retrospective at the Freedom Tower that the experience with the first lady was “huge” and “life changing.”
As for Mrs. Obama’s other fashion choices: She headed out to the festivities earlier on Monday in a navy-silk, checkered-patterned coat and dress by Thom Browne inspired by a necktie. The outfit was specifically designed for her, but Browne told the Associated Press he wasn’t 100 percent sure she was going to choose it. “I am proud and humbled,” he said.
Mrs. Obama has worn Browne’s designs for other occasions, including a gray dress with black lace overlay to one of the presidential debates last fall.
Browne made his name in modern menswear, but he launched women’s wear in 2011. He was in Paris on Monday, finishing previews for his next menswear collection. The idea to use the tie fabric came to him because he was designing men’s clothes at the same time, he explained.
“I wanted tailored for her. For me, she stands for strength and confidence, and that’s what I wanted to design for her,” Browne said, adding that the first lady “is so supportive of so many American designers.”