HAILED by many as Americaâ€™s new style icon, Michelle Obama officially took her place on the world stage wearing an outfit in the non-traditional colour of yellow and set fashionistas atwitter.
Her yellow swearing-in outfit was a departure from the red, white or blue tones often adopted by U.S. female politicians on high-profile occasions. She added olive green gloves from chain store J.Crew and Jimmy Choo shoes.
Her daughters, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, both wore J. Crew coats to the presidential swearing-in ceremony.
Yellow is traditionally seen in many parts of the world as a symbol of hope and optimism, style experts said.
â€œThe whole ensemble radiated hope and optimism,â€ Mandi Norwood, a former editor at Mademoiselle magazine, who is writing a book on Michelle Obamaâ€™s style, said.
New York-based Isabel Toledo, the designer, said the coat and dress were made of Swiss wool lace, backed with netting for warmth on the bitterly cold Washington morning, and lined in French silk.
â€œI wanted to capture optimism, I wanted it to feel happy, I wanted it to feel inclusive,â€ Toledo said.
According to Womenâ€™s Wear Daily, usually hot on the latest in fashion, Obama had also chosen another Cuban-American designer, Narcisco Rodriguez, for the black and camel-coloured attire she wore on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial.
The new first lady of the US often wore the creations of American designer Isabel Toledo during the presidential campaign. Toledo launched her label about 20 years ago after having worked for fashion house Anne Klein.
Michelle Obama, 45, has already been named a fashion icon by magazine editors, fashion designers and a flurry of bloggers. Her fashion sense first took centre stage when she was photographed by Vogue magazine in autumn 2007.
She can also shift seamlessly between avant-garde designer labels, including Chicago designer Maria Pinto and New York designer Thakoon Panichgul, and mass market brands such as H&M, J. Crew and Gap.
But Michelleâ€™s choice did not get a universal thumbs-up. An online poll on the US Weekly celebrity magazine site showed 55% of readers hated the outfit and 44% loved it.
Bonnie Fuller, former editor-in-chief of Glamour magazine, wondered: â€œIs she walking around in inaugural upholstery?â€ Fuller wrote in a blog that she heard one observer quipping that the first lady was â€œwearing a couchâ€.
With home foreclosures and layoffs plaguing Americans, fashion commentators expected Michelle to go for understated glamour, wearing nothing too glitzy or frivolous.
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was criticised during the 1970s oil crisis for wearing her previously worn, off-the-rack gown to the 1977 inaugural ball.
In 1981, Nancy Reagan was deemed â€œtoo Hollywoodâ€ with her white, one-shoulder, lace satin sheath with crystal beads.
For the inaugural balls, Michelle wore a white, one-shouldered chiffon gown with a full skirt by Taiwan-born US designer Jason Wu, 26, whose dresses cost up to $6,000.
â€œAt least for one night, we want our first lady to be more glamorous than the rest of us. We donâ€™t want her to be Secondhand Rose, but we donâ€™t want her to be Marie Antoinette either.
The secret to Michelleâ€™s sartorial success so far has been walking the line between the two. Hereâ€™s hoping she continues to do so,â€ Moore wrote.
Michelle is already considered an ambassador for American fashion. She was listed in Vanity Fairâ€™s magazineâ€™s â€œ10 of the Worldâ€™s Best Dressed Peopleâ€ in both 2007 and 2008.
â€œItâ€™s not only about the way she dresses, but also the way she will conduct her life. The eyes of the world will be on her. She will have a big impact,â€ designer Oscar de la Renta told Womenâ€™s Wear Daily.
Adapted from online sources
Michelle sets fashion world ablaze