Mrs. O Wows in Jason Wu (And Brings New Designers to the Forefront)

Southern Inaugural Ball

After months of speculation and hundreds if not thousands of designs,the world finally laid eyes on Mrs. O’s Inaugural Ball gown Tuesdaynight – a gown for the ages.

The designer of Mrs. O’s dress was Jason Wu – a 26 year old Taipei native, former student of designer Narciso Rodriguez and finalist for the 2008 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize. Tuesday night, Mr. Wu won the greatest prize of all, dressing our First Lady in an ivory one-shoulder gown embellished with organza flowers and crystals for the Inaugural Ball.

Wu’s name officially entered the Inaugural Ball gown race after he dressed Mrs. O in a white shift dress with hand embroidered black rosettes for an interview with Barbara Walters in late November. Still, in a December interview with Cheryl Tan of the Wall Street Journal’s Heard on the Runway blog, Wu downplayed the possibility of designing Mrs. O’s Inaugural Ball gown, saying,“Oh, that’s a long shot!” As he later told the media Tuesday night, he didn’t know Mrs. O had selected his gown until he saw her take the stage.

As with election night, Mrs. O’s dress was met with mixed reactions. Some were left feeling underwhelmed and yearning for color, while many gravitated towards words like “gorgeous”, “dream-like” and “inventive”. Though the color, or lack of, seemed to be the hottest topic of debate, the choice of ivory was actually consistent with a growing line of winter white Inaugural ball gowns – from Jackie Kennedy to Nancy Reagan.

Late Tuesday evening, Jason Wu spoke with CNN to further elaborate on his inspiration for the dress.

“It’s about hope. It’s about newness,” he said. “It’s all a little dreamlike, and we’re making history, and I wanted to really reflect that.”

The gown had a more youthful and romantic slant than the grown-up Isabel Toledo dress and coat Mrs. O had worn earlier in the day. But multiplicity is one of the hallmarks of Mrs. O’s style. She dresses for the occasion, always appropriate for the setting, always letting her personality shine through. On Tuesday night, there was no question – she was the belle of the ball.

On her first full day as First Lady, Mrs. O again brought a name celebrated within fashion’s inner circles to the forefront – Tracy Feith. The Feith dress, worn to a church service and later for a White House open house event, had a fitted bodice and waist, and full skirt. Many first thought it was vintage, but in fact it was a modern twist on a 1950s silhouette. True to Feith’s signature – bold prints – the dress was printed with bunches of dark grapes.

In the past five days, Mrs. O has changed the landscape of American fashion quite dramatically. Names like Maria Cornejo, Narciso Rodriguez, Isabel Toledo, Jason Wu and Tracy Feith now beam bright at the forefront. What taste-making influence will they and Mrs. O bring? Only time will tell. One thing is already quite certain – our First Lady, Mrs. O, is a style icon to the highest degree.

Read more about the First Lady's style at the Mrs. O blog.

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