Does anybody know what label Barack Obama was wearing today as he attended the G20 summit in London on his first trip abroad as President? He always looks flawless, but no one seems too concerned about digging into his sartorial secrets.
What we do know is that his wife Michelle has the world on alert with her very fresh, very new and now First Lady fashion choices as she accompanies him to various events. Web sites across the globe are flashing photos of Michelle at 10 Downing Street, where she met British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah. Press and blogs are proclaiming her selection of a champagne-hued cardigan adorned with beads and sequins, paired with a mint-green pencil skirt, both from mid-market brand J. Crew, one of her confirmed favorites. Michelle’s accessories scored a bull’s-eye too—low-heeled animal-print stilettos and her signature pearls.
We all know that Superwoman is a comic-book invention, but look hard at Michelle Obama and you’ll see plenty of elements of the modern super woman. She’s a mom; she’s a Harvard Law grad; she’s active in her community; she’s glamorous; she even finds time to work out! New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is impressed: “The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama’s sculpted biceps … she looks as though she could easily wind up and punch out Rush Limbaugh, Bernie Madoff and all the corporate creeps who ripped off America.”
The First Lady is also relaxed, witty, poised and as naturally at home with underprivileged people in distress as she is with the power elite. And although she’s clearly as accomplished as her husband intellectually, professionally and athletically (actually, she doesn’t smoke, so she’s one-upped him there), she’s cool with letting him get his job done while the media obsesses over her clothes and hair and biceps and choice of puppy. She certainly looked like a natural with Sarah Brown, drinking tea and chatting with patients and staff at a cancer-care clinic.
The BBC gave Michelle a clear thumbs-up with the headline “Michelle Obama Fever Hits the UK,” and the British vox pop focused on substance: “She seems to be a good role model. A strong, intelligent woman. I think she’ll go down very well here.” In an unprecedented but lauded breach of protocol, Michelle put her arm around the Queen’s shoulder, and Her Majesty reciprocated by putting her arm around the First Lady’s waist. The Queen was reportedly so taken with the First Lady that she asked her to keep in touch.
While our hopes are on something new and different emerging from the G20 meeting this week, what we can be sure of is a new and different type of female role model taking her first steps into the international spotlight.