First Lady of Fashion

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(New York Times) — Among her big belts and bold necklaces, there is one perfect accessory for Michelle Obama: her loving husband on her arm.  That is the theory of Sophie Theallet, a fashion designer who has put America’s first lady into simple dresses with a faint down-home sense of the happy housewife.  Just how did an intellectually brilliant Harvard Law School graduate, with a $273,500-a-year salary as a Chicago hospital executive and a wardrobe of corporate tailored outfits morph into an adoring wife and casual mom with a penchant for J.Crew knitwear, jeans and brightly patterned dresses?

The cardigan — worn on the night her husband, Barack Obama, was elected president of the United States, and even to meet the Queen Elizabeth II — has become a postfeminist symbol of an independent woman whose free spirit won’t be cowed by convention.  Whether Mrs. Obama is the new incarnation of the power woman — or whether she made a calculated visual step away from being seen as “an angry black woman” — is the subject of a book by the fashion editor Kate Betts published this week by Clarkson Potter.

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