Kate Middleton take note: this is how it’s done.
Michelle Obama reminded everyone last night that when it comes to first lady style, she reigns supreme.
At the Obama administration’s third official state dinner last night to receive President Hu Jintao of China, Mrs. O wore a dramatic red silk and black petal-printed Alexander McQueen dress from Sarah Burton‘s 2011 resort collection. Of course, it wasn’t the exact same dress from McQueen resort–the original dress had puffy sleeves and the one Mrs. O wore was sleeveless to show off her famous guns. While some speculated that the First Lady might wear a Chinese or Chinese American designer to the dinner–she wore a dress by Indian-American designer Naeem Khan to the state dinner hosting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh–it seems likely some consideration was given to the bold color choice given the significance of red to Chinese culture.
In her first piece for the Daily Beast, former Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan read meaning into the how the dress speaks to changes in the fashion industry and the industry’s future in China:
The red petal print, silk organza gown wasn’t so much an act of diplomacy as a broad statement about the new realities of the fashion industry. In choosing a dress from Alexander McQueen, Mrs. Obama championed the cause of artisan design, the legacy of bespoke tailoring, and the staggering creativity that can be nurtured in the frock trade when it is at its best. The sleeveless dress, with its asymmetrical neckline, was created by a house that represents the designer imagination at its most indulgent and devilish. And in wearing the gown to honor China, a country that many view with disdain for its abundance of cheap labor, counterfeit products, and poor labor practices, Mrs. Obama seemed to be recognizing the country’s inevitable place in the fashion cycle and giving it its due. Indeed, Chinese consumers represent a vast new marketplace for designer companies, and the production quality of its factories continues to improve. In short, Mrs. Obama’s choice was an optimistic celebration of all that fashion can be and it seemed to suggest that China was welcome to be a part of that vision.
Symbolism and industry insights aside, it was simply a fantastic look–one of many stunning black tie ensembles the First Lady has worn over the past few years. While the buzz over Mrs. O’s togs is not at the fever pitch it was when the Obama’s took office, last night’s McQueen had us reminiscing about some of her best sartorial moments. So we asked Mary Tomer, the founder and editor of Mrs.O, the site the documents and identifies what the First Lady wears in meticulous detail, for her top ten Michelle Obama black tie looks.
Here they are: