Michelle Obama chose a Venezuelan-American designer for the gown she wore Tuesday to the state dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande.
But the formal, ornate style of the sumptuous gown by Carolina Herrera reflected French aesthetics, from the intricate beaded black bodice, to the train and full skirt in a color called liberty blue, according to Susan Swimmer, author of "Michelle Obama: First Lady of Fashion and Style."
"From the White House to Versailles it's not that far," said Swimmer, who is also contributing fashion features editor for More magazine. "It's much more keeping in a French aesthetic than I've seen her wear before. It's very French in terms of how ornate it is and the use of lace and the velvet sash."
The gown featured a black, hand-sewn beaded embroidery applique scallop-edged top that came to Obama's elbows. The top went over a blue silk faille corset and long skirt with a train that billowed behind the first lady as she walked with President Barack Obama. It was matched with a black velvet belt. The color also echoed the blue color that both countries share in their flags.
The White House confirmed it was a Herrera gown and Herrera took credit in a news release saying she made the dress at her New York atelier.
The first lady, however, is known for wearing silhouettes that are more sleek and glamorous. Take, for example, the strapless and sequined custom-made Naeem Khan column gown she wore to the state dinner for India in 2009.
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