By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
An elegant second Obama inauguration, packed with high-fashion,
high-energy and high-profile stars, was twirling to an end Monday as
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama - she in another stunning
gown -prepared to dance the night away at the inaugural balls.
it's a gown by Jason Wu, the same designer who crafted her 2009 white
inaugural gown. The White House said this one is custom-made, ruby red,
sleeveless, backless, cinched at the waist, chiffon and velvet, flowing
pleats falling to the floor, with a handmade diamond embellished ring by
jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald. She is wearing shoes by Jimmy Choo.
And her hair was down in her new style with the bangs everyone has been
The initial reaction on Twitter was positive, and
congratulations poured in for Wu. But there was surprise, too,
especially from Wu.
"I can't believe it. It's crazy," he told The
Associated Press from his Manhattan studio as he was trying to share the
news with his parents in Taiwan. "To have done it once was already the
experience of my life. To have a second time is tremendous."
was gobsmacked" given Mrs. Obama's tendency to spread her fashion
benedictions around, said fashion columnist Robin Givhan on CNN. "In
some ways it was a bit of a safer choice, there's so much pressure on an
inaugural gown to be an extraordinarily symbolic dress that she felt
safe going back to someone who had done right by her."
As singer Jennifer Hudson crooned Al Green's Let's Stay Together,
the president and Mrs. Obama began to dance, first with each other and
then with other military guests at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball.
one of the first performers at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball for
members of the military was Brad Paisley, in his customary cowboy hat
and rocking the rafters. After he finished his set, he told the
audience, "This was an honor! Stay safe out there!" Then Alicia Keys, in
a clingy tomato-colored dress, sang an adaption of her top-selling This Girl's On Fire as "Obama's On Fire."
Fun. later took the stage but the joint really began hopping when Stevie Wonder swung into They Can Feel It All Over as his backup horn section blared. Even on the TV screen you could see the scores of smartphone cameras held up from the crowd.
White House pool at the ball reported most men in the room are wearing
dress uniforms and most women are in gowns. But there are plenty of
women in their uniforms, wearing knee-length skirts or pants.
room is lit in purple with orange spotlights roaming around, the pool
reported.The backdrop of the stage is mostly blue, with a big
presidential seal at center and white curtains on either side.
president, who says he likes his wife's new hair style, introduced by
recounting what he jokingly said at the congressional lunch earlier in
the day. "Some may dispute the quality of the president but no one
disputes the quality of the first lady," he said.
The Obamas did not dance the whole night; it has
been a long day. Besides, it's always too crowded to dance much at
presidential inaugural balls. At the larger of this year's two official
balls this evening, some 35,000 guests were expected to fill the
Washington Convention Center to watch the presidential couple's pas de
Also watching the couple this weekend: a passel of
performers and stars, such as Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson and
Katy Perry, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Usher and John Legend. Also,
Black Violin, Far East Movement, fun., members of the Gleecast, and Soundgarden were keeping the party-goers entertained on multiple stages at the convention center.
Beyoncé, who sang At Last
for the couple's first dance at the 2009 inaugural balls, this time
sang a passionate national anthem to conclude the ceremonies on the
Mall. Clad in a black Pucci dress, her highlighted hair loose on her
shoulders, glittering emerald earrings in her ears, she came very close
to matching the late Whitney Houston's thrilling 1991 Super Bowl
rendition of the notoriously difficult-to-sing song.
exclaimed master-of-ceremonies, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.,
when Beyoncé was done. Fans-in-chief FLOTUS and the president kissed and
Meanwhile, at the Creative Coalition Ball, liberal
Hollywood's fundraising gala and celebration of the Obama re-election, a
contingent of boldfaced names made their way down the red carpet into a
downtown Washington arts center, to be entertained by headliner The Goo
And yes, even Academy Award winners get majorly
awe-struck by the atmosphere and the rituals of America's democracy. "My
favorite (moment) was to be standing outside with all my fellow
Americans. It was a very moving speech. I didn't know I would be moved
and in fact I was," said Oscar winner Melissa Leo, clad in Ralph Lauren.
Evan Handler, Charlotte's better half on Sex and the City,
praised Obama's oratorical skills. "It's great. It was a good speech
today," he said, adding that he's been a longtime member of the Creative
Coalition. "I was last with them at the Republican National Convention
so this is a very different atmosphere."
The inaugural weekend
started Saturday for the Obamas and reached a crescendo Monday morning
when the family, including daughters Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, stepped
out of the White House and headed to a nearby church for an Inauguration
when the waiting cameras got the first photos of Inauguration Day
fashion. Mrs. Obama was clad in a coat-dress ensemble of navy blue,
based on the style of a men's silk tie, by Thom Browne, a high-end
designer of mostly men's wear who now will be better known throughout
the land, even by mall shoppers more familiar with her J.Crew belt,
gloves and shoes.
The Obama girls popped in wool coats and dresses in purple, violet and plum, by J.Crew and Kate Spade.
the National Mall, a festive, flag-waving crowd estimated at more than a
half-million greeted the Obamas with thunderous cheers, from the moment
they stepped out on the Capitol's west side, to his reciting the oath
of office, to the conclusion of his second inaugural address.
For Mrs. Obama and her daughters, the raves online and on Twitter for their outfits were just as thunderous.
fashion story of the inauguration was very much in keeping with Mrs.
Obama's style strategy over the past four years: Mix multiple brands
with high-end and affordable. Aim her spotlight at emerging designers.
It's been so successful a strategy that the
nation's billion-dollar fashion industry now regards her with something
Besides Browne and J.Crew, Mrs. Obama
also graced Reed Krakoff with her favor during the inaugural weekend:
She wore a royal blue bolero-style cardigan by the Coach creative
director-turned-fashion-designer two days in a row. On Sunday, for the
official, legal swearing-in ceremony in the Blue Room of the White
House, she wore the cardigan over a Krakoff blue dress. And she wore
knee-high Krakoff boots with high heels on Monday while marching in the
Michael Kors also got the Mrs. O nod, supplying
a sparkly beaded black sleeveless cocktail dress she wore Sunday night
at a reception for campaign supporters. And for the Kids' Inaugural
Concert she hosted with Jill Biden on Saturday night for military kids,
she donned a white peplum blouse by British design house Alexander
McQueen, cinched with a Anthropologie belt.
The piece de resistance
traditionally is the inaugural gown; that and the Inauguration Day
ensemble will go to the National Archives after the inauguration, the
White House said.
Contributing: Cindy Clark, Arienne Thompson