The most important thing Obama has done for women in terms of fashion is give them a sense of liberation to explore and experiment. Even when she is doing a sack race in the White House with Jimmy Fallon, her exercise clothes are original. “First Lady Michelle Obama has freed America from the old rules of style, from the idea that fashion has to be exclusive, that there’s one right way to dress and one group of arbiters to set the standard. She projects a new kind of glamour that is relaxed, fun, and deeply democratic,” says author Gioia Diliberto. “In subtle but fundamental ways, Michelle has transformed how we dress.
“I have always said I design for the thinking man’s sex symbol, and she defines it in every way,” says Prabal Gurung. “Every time she wears something of mine, it has given my seamstresses and tailors, my factories here in the Garment District a new zeal. They have felt a sense of pride, a renewed sense of purpose and hope. More important, what she has done is give millions of people back home in Nepal and around the world a message, a hope that with perseverance, hard work, and integrity, the dream that came true for me could also be theirs.”
She is never out of fashion for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the runway seasons: “Everyone talks about Michelle Obama’s sense of style and the firmness of her arms. It is true she loves clothes and looks amazing, and I love to see her wear vibrant colors and interesting bias cuts and show her fit and strong body,” says von Furstenberg. “But what comes across is her incredible intelligence, her caring being, her true substance. That fabric is indestructible and very colorful. It is called character.”