“I laugh now because I always taught Michelle to step out of her comfort zone in life,” Michelle Obama’s mom tells André Leon Talley in the March issue of Vogue. “But I never thought she was going to step this far out of that zone.” We, too, are a little surprised to see Michelle in Vogue. On the campaign trail, the new First Lady wore clothes by labels like H&M that everyday people could relate to — things we never see in Vogue. Yet here she is, the second First Lady to grace Vogue’s cover, after Hillary Clinton. And, unsurprisingly, the woman, who said being a fashion icon is “hard,” and who always felt like a “tomboy jock at heart,” looks awkward.
It would have been hard for Michelle to turn down the cover, since Anna Wintour did so much for the Obama campaign and, well, what woman wouldn’t have difficulty turning down the opportunity? She looks gorgeous in that Jason Wu dress, but her expression says, “I’m not sure if I belong here.”
That said, Michelle remains true to her own fashion sense in the spread inside the magazine, wearing a dress by Narciso Rodriguez and another outfit by J.Crew. And the story penned by Talley is delightful, if not for the Michelle Obama quotes but Talley’s own benign gloating.
I first met Mrs. Obama at an impromptu dinner at Oprah Winfrey’s house in Santa Barbara, California, on the eve of the divine Ms. O’s Legends Ball in 2005. I was seated between the then Senator Barack Obama’s wife and Tina Turner. Do I remember what Michelle was wearing? Not at all. What I do remember was how informed she was on so many topics. And when she said she actually knew who I was, I was so flattered my jaw dropped.
Ah, that’s the god ol’ Vogue we know! Just when a salmon J.Crew cardigan makes us feel like we can, you know, relate, Talley takes us to an otherworldly scenario with Oprah and Tina Turner. But Michelle brings it back down to earth. Talley asked about the much-criticized black cardigan she wore on Election Night.
“I’m not going to pretend that I don’t care about it,” Mrs. Obama says of the criticism. “But I also have to be very practical. In the end, someone will always not like what you wear — people just have different tastes. Some will think that a sweater was horrible, [but] I was cold; I needed that sweater!”
I lived the American Dream in Grant Park that evening, too. That November night felt like spring, yes. But not balmy enough for a woman to martyr herself in a sleeveless cocktail frock!
Yes, don’t forget! The fabulous Talley was there, too. You know where else he was? On the Obama Express from Philadelphia to D.C., but not with the press corps in the back. With Michelle’s real friends in one of the front cars, where Michelle confabbed with him on her Zero + Maria Cornejo coat. This is Vogue, after all.
Leading Lady [Vogue]