As Barack Obama was making history Tuesday night as the nation’s first African American man to be elected president, some fashion critics admit being distracted by the dress worn by his wife, Michelle.
Described by the President-elect as his “best friend” and “love of his life,” Michelle Obama appeared onstage at Tuesday’s Grant Park rally in Chicago wearing a black cardigan over a scoop-neck black sheath with splashes of red in the upper and lower half separated by a band of black at the hips.
The outfit was a slightly modified version of a dress presented by designer Narcisco Rodriguez in September for the 2009 spring season, reports Agence France Presse.
“I voted for Obama, but I didn’t vote for that dress,” homemaker and mother of three Jessica Bettencourt from Wisconsin told The New York Times.
“I don’t know what was worse,” Chicago lawyer Karla Wright told the paper, “that stupid criss-cross band around the middle or that black sort of border coming up from the hem.”
Michelle Obama & daughter Malia on election night
Not all comments were negative.
“That dress was unpretentious,” Julie Gilhart, fashion director of New York’s top-price Barneys clothing store, told the Times. “It said, ‘Be who you are — don’t let someone else tell you how to be.'”
Michelle Obama does not use a personal stylist, Obama staff members told the paper.
“Certainly, her style is a departure from the starchy attire that first ladies historically favored,” the Times wrote. “At the least, it promises four lively years of fashion-watching at the White House.”
In other Michelle Obama news, the future First Lady chatted with current First Lady Laura Bush by telephone on Wednesday, according to Obama’s spokeswoman.
The incoming Obama thanked Bush “for the grace and strength she’s demonstrated as First Lady and expressed appreciation for her guidance in the coming months,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.