June 17th, 2008
11:13 PM ET

Michelle Obama.. fashion IT girl.. hits the town

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/17/art.michelleobama.jpg]
Jessica Yellin
CNN Congressional Correspondent

In her stump speech, Michelle Obama often says that America is not yet where it needs to be. “We are still a nation that’s too divided. We live in isolation and because of that isolation we fear one another,” she explains. She says her husband will help us come together.

Seems she’s ready to help.

In what could be a valiant effort to bridge those divides, Michelle Obama is going where few mortals venture: New York high society.

At two fundraisers tonight she rubs elbows with le tout monde New York – the types whose names are often in print, always in bold. These include hosts Calvin Klein, the fashion designer; Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue; and Andre Leon Talley, Vogue Editor-at-large and darling of the haute couture set. (You’ll often find him in an oversized fur coat surrounded by emaciated celebrities).

Leon Talley recently told the New York Times, regarding Michelle Obama’s look: "A black Camelot moment is the right moment for the Obamas. The faux pearls, the A-line dresses, the Jackie flip are obviously all part of how her image strategy has evolved."

So why not go high society, just like Jackie?

At least in this crowd no one's likely to accuse her of being the elitist in the room.

The evening begins at a not-quite-downtown art gallery in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. According to the gallery’s website, it currently features artworks that are actually video images projected onto walls, all in black and white. The titles are minimalist, like the look, including Gun (2007), Donkey & Lightening (2008) and Frog (2008).

The artist, Burt Barr, is quoted saying, "black & white are the only two colors I'll ever need."

Guests are asked to pay $1000 to mingle with the hosts, Mrs. Obama and, let’s be honest, one another at the gallery cocktail reception.

For a heftier sum, an elite group is invited to Calvin Klein’s private residence for a cozier gathering. It was called for 7:30pm. We’ll have to wait and hear who turns out.

Vogue already named Mrs. Obama a fashion IT girl. So she should have just the thing to wear.

Filed under: Jessica Yellin • Michelle Obama • Raw Politics
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Joy from Seattle

    I am a little offended by the insistence that Michelle must be softened and these pieces about her at fashion events and other "girlie" things.

    She is a strong, capable, competent, aggressive woman. GOOD! She is a highly paid corporate executive. GOOD!

    Is our country really so sexist that it can't take Michelle at face value? Instead we have to treat her as a wife, a mother, and some weak little woman who just stands behind her man. This is a sexist view. She shouldn't be on the View, she should be talking to Larry King.

    Bring out the real Michelle. Bring out the world where we are electing a partnership, instead of a man with a milksop for a wife.

    June 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  2. Alex

    Come on folks.....how do you expect someone who makes over $500,000 a year and lives in a house worth over $2 mil to relate to the average citizen or to someone who is struggling to get by? This remake idea is about as phony as you can get and it is being done solely to entice voters to vote for her husband. It's so typical of the disconnect we all experience from those we send to Washington to represent us. They don't have a clue because they don't live it!

    June 18, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  3. Chris

    Oh – as opposed to Cindy McCain who made how many millions last year? Does she seem humble to you? Does it look like shes wearing the rollback speacial from Tar-jay?

    People who base their presidential decision on "image" are not the ones we want selecting our next president. There are far more important issues at stake than what some candidate's wife is wearing. Besides, the woman went to school, educated herself and pursued a career, and even though she can't even touch Cindy in terms of money, she shouldwear whatever she wants to. Not important.

    June 18, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  4. Terry

    If you got it. Flaunt it.
    The Bushes didn't have a clue. It's not wrong to know about some things.
    Fashion is one of them. I hope the anti intellectual regime we have
    had to endure for 8 years is over. We should embrace our culture.
    That's the American way.

    June 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  5. Deme

    Oh Please,

    She went to Harvard Law. It's no secret she's upper middle class. Since when did one have to hide ones ability to buy the finer things in life. Isn't that freedom part of the American dream? Work hard and buy what you like?

    Those that want her to dress down must want to be pandered and lied to. A friend once told me that it was odd that I wore my Obama pin on my $1,600 Balenciaga bag. You can have funds, good taste and still care. Trust me, you'll need the folks with the funds to implement "Change."

    June 18, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  6. Saundra... Indiana

    She is a tall woman that claims to NOW be proud of her country. She needs to improve her walk and definitely her physical posture in order to reflect that, or all of the designers clothes are for naught. As for a comparison for the great Jackie O, I am befuddled.

    June 18, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Cynthia

    It's still not clear to me why people call Michelle an elitist. I saw her on the View this morning and she was intelligent, funny and down to earth.

    June 18, 2008 at 3:56 pm |
  8. Gary Chandler in Canada

    ....but have you seen Cindy in blue jeans!?
    how about some balanced coverage on the 'important' issues!?

    June 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm |
  9. Beverly

    Thank God someone is helping her. While she's always look appropriate, her fashion and color choices are a bit challenged. Barack could use some Hugo Boss and Sean John style for that first debate with what's him name also.

    June 18, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  10. Carol

    Jackie Kennedy????????????? She'll need a major makeover to try to pull off that PR spin.

    I love Leon Talley, (and he certainly knows more about fashion than I do) but in my West Coast opinion, the "faux pearls and A-line dresses" make her look more like a cross between Marge Simpson and Wilma Flintstone than Jackie Kennedy.

    June 18, 2008 at 11:30 am |
  11. Mike Crowe

    Michelle Obama's view of the world positively scares me more than her husband. She has already stated that we (America) "need to change our traditions", among other elements of our culture.

    Sorry, Michelle. My motto for this election is, "NOBAMA 08"


    June 18, 2008 at 11:23 am |
  12. Kent Fitzsimmons,Illinois

    It is all about looks, unfortunately. But, she shouldn't overdo it. We don't want her to seem as Cindy McCain does............McCain's wife inherited her wealth of 100 million dollars. We cannot relate to her and never will. There is no way to fix "out of touch". How can we relate to someone who has always lived in extreme wealth. Cindy McCain has never went "without". She can never understand us.

    Michelle Obama has went without but triumphed above it. She can relate to us and us to her. It doesn't hurt to rub elbows with the snobby ultra-rich...................but we know where Michelle came from. And she IS one of us........................

    June 18, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  13. Dee Stevens

    Good article.

    June 18, 2008 at 8:33 am |
  14. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Well I hope they don’t introduce her to botox. I think John McCain's wife has too much stuffed in her face and it is not flattering. Michelle go have a great time get some votes for Obama but I wouldn't stay too long. At a time when our country is suffering financially this isn't the crowd I would like to see her rub noses with.

    I don't care if she is a fashion "It girl", I care about my college loans, health care, if I will be able to afford a house once I graduate...these folks have none of those issues. Their biggest concern is the overpriced clothes on their backs, when thousands of Americans homes are being foreclosed on.

    June 18, 2008 at 7:47 am |
  15. Nandini Trivedi

    Why is the Anderson Cooper team fixated on what Michelle Obama is wearing, her dresses and her pearls. I would like to hear more about Michelle's accomplishments in Princeton and Harvard and what she is doing right now. These are the experiences she will bring to the White House if Obama gets elected president and this is really what we need to focus on. The other things should be a non-issue. I would like to see CNN raise their standards. The viewers are ready for more substantive discussions.

    June 18, 2008 at 5:59 am |
  16. James Dylan

    Great, just what the campaign and country needs. Fashion- The passion of the decadent. So much for bridging gaps with the working class. The vast majority of Americans who are worried about mortgage payments, gas to get to work and how much longer there's going to be work to get to. Is this the path the campaign is going; a debate on who has better art hanging on their walls or what looks better with pearls? Who ever she just hired as her new advisor, or what ever, needs an advisor them self. This fascination the Obama's and/or the media have by comparing them with the Kennedy's is bordering on pathology. Like Dan Quayle wasn't no John she ain't no Jackie. Now I don't expect Ms.Obama, or any other first lady for that matter, to do anything close to what Ms.Clinton did with her time, but this does nothing but promote that elitist image. Or perhaps that IS who they are, ACTORS. Talk about social masks. What they say and what they do I'm starting to see are two different things. McCain is looking better everyday. I know his hands have been dirty and bloody for this country. And always proud.

    I must admit, I did like the fact that Obama sternly stood up for his wife a little while back saying that topic was off the table. But on second thought, this isn't The Peoples Republic of China. It's The United States of America and nothing is off the table. Deal with it.

    June 18, 2008 at 4:58 am |
  17. jerry

    I was watching cnn exclusively, but since you became negative on
    Obama I am changing the channel! My question is is this comming from Cnn management or from Cooper?

    June 18, 2008 at 2:59 am |
  18. John

    I think you guys are reaching a bit much with the Michelle Obama stories. As the conventional wisdom says, people vote for the top of the ticket, not the VP. Therefore, who cares about the First Lady? I don't think anyone is seriously going to make their presidential choice based on whether or not they like the potential First Lady. Move on to something serious please. It seems pretty obvious that Anderson is an Obama supporter, but let's try and and have some objectiivity please.

    As an Independent who voted for Clinton in the primary, and who at this point will not vote for either Obama or McCain, if Obama wants my vote he's going to have to EARN it. Convince me that he's not too liberal for me... that he is worthy of my trust and my vote. Fully answer the questions about his sweetheart deal with Rezko. Otherwise I am content to leave that row emtpy on my ballot.

    June 18, 2008 at 1:46 am |
  19. christina

    so michelle obama might need a make over, has anybody ever notice her black steel studded belt? she always wears it, with skirts, dresses, you name it. it makes her look like a dominatrix, which who knows she might be! since she appears to be a controlling and very uptight personality. who doesn't look too approachable and angree

    June 18, 2008 at 1:42 am |
  20. Ryan Maroney

    I Keep watching people talk about how Michelle Obama "should" act, talk, etc. That sounds like polotics after a tried and not necessarilly true fashion. If she acts as we say she ought, we will rob ourselves of her authenticity, one of the most valuable assets of this campaign. I like Michelle and Barack as they are. That may be because I can say – genuinely and from the bottom of my heart – I too am, for the first time in my adult life, really proud to be American. That is an emotion, and how I feel is exactly how I should feel. No need to apologise for it. Likewise, Michelle. I hope they don't succeed in making her something she's not. However, one thing is certain, she will change, we all will. Yes, indeed, we can. Perhaps we must, starting with me.

    June 18, 2008 at 1:02 am |
  21. JC- Los Angeles

    What planet is Michelle Obama from? I most certainly do not live in isolation and I for one, have never feared anyone in my life. Strangest comments I've heard in years. She makes no sense whatsoever. Ask her how she feels about her full ride to Princeton. Or her scholarship to law school. Seems like she should be the biggest champion for the USA. Ask her if her pastor's messages are right for the youth of America. Ask her what she has done to help her children better understand their white roots. For someone who wants to bring change, she most certainly should start with herself.

    June 18, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  22. pat

    Mrs. Obama has always looked great when she has appeared on tv.
    I suggest you all leave her alone. She seems to have done just fine with out all the expert opinions.
    Is there not more important subjects to discuss.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:52 pm |
  23. LuLu Matthews

    Do we have to be nice or can we say it like it is. Michelle Obama is not first lady- yet!!! IF and when it happens she will need much tutoring in "How to be---" and she must remember she's only the wife of the Presidend not President, or Vice President or anything else but just the wife of the President. Hoping not to see too much of her.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  24. austinwatcher

    Completely agree with Roland's comments about Michelle Obama.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  25. Jeannie in Sacramento, CA

    So shallow, so superficial.... surely, Jessica could be given more pertinent, relevant, and profound assignments. CNN can be so off the mark sometimes.

    June 17, 2008 at 11:43 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    Michelle should concentrate on making herself into an image and not try to copy Jackie Kennedy or anyone else – her husband is all about change and being honest; this should apply to Michelle's image as well. Michelle is a modern woman with a career, kids, and views of her own. Camelot is a thing of the past – Michelle needs to represent women now not women in the 1960s.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  27. Johnwpb

    I respect Obama and Michelle, I hope she is a strong role for the Dems but please don't let her become like Eva Peron. I respect that she must make Obama look good and she must be able to appear as the person to whom young girls would look up to of all ages and races. Eva Peron well went a little further than that please don't let it go there. Again I will voice my opinion the Republican candidate is looking at Gov Charlie Crist a very popular Republican Gov one that alot of us Dems supported. He stood for our issues, has fought for them long before becoming our Gov and has stood up to his promises since, also he is looking at Mrs. Dole, women are already flocking to him this could make the choice that much stronger. Now adding the hiring of Patti Solis Doyle a slap in the face to Hillary and moreover to the Dems, why because apparently she could not run a good campaign for Hillary admitted by top Dems, I haven’t seen a bad choice like this since well “Current President” hmmmm
    I like Obama and Love Obama/Clinton 08'
    Ticket with one tight race, Ticket with both "Landslide"

    June 17, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  28. Cindy

    Well it seems to me if Michelle wants to change her image and not be seen as an elitist she needs to stop dressing in all of those high priced clothes and hanging with the upper echelon people. That right there gives people the wrong idea about her.


    June 17, 2008 at 11:29 pm |