Wednesday, January 21, 2009

America's Inaugural Dress

"So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled...Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

-- Barack Obama in his Inaugural Address, January 20, 2009

America was dressed splendidly and appropriately for one of the biggest historical moments of my lifetime. Even the capitol was dressed gloriously!

I live in Maryland and I felt the energy everywhere I went. Children were staying home from school, friends were volunteering at the Inauguration, flags were waving and everyone was glued to their TV set. I was proud, I cried and I was lifted up on a wave of hope and optimism...

And, I'll be honest, I was fascinated by what everyone chose to wear. OK, OK. Call me shallow but I'm really not...that's why I began this post the way I did. I just love the idea of clothes, needle and thread, which fabrics people choose for very special occasions and the designers who make them.

Mind you. I searched hundreds of photos online this morning looking for a close-up of Michelle Obama's FABRICS.

color "lemongrass", Swiss wool lace, layers of pashmina tulle, french silk lining, green sash closes the coat, matching Jimmy Choo shoes and J. Crew gloves, rhinestone collar necklace --

I couldn't figure out what made this fabric sparkle -- I guess I'll have to wait for the magazines...

The Evening Gown
soft and flowing, Jason Wu (a Tai-Pei-born designer in his 20s), one-shoulder gown

silk chiffon, organza embellishment, swarovski crystals, silver thread embroidery
Yes, that's right, embroidery
made by Jason Wu himself

Oh, still my beating heart. There's hope for all you beautiful seamstresses out there!

And check out this post from ART TEA LIFE on Inaugural Gowns Revisited.

And, romantic that I is my favorite shot of the couple.

But, by far, for me, 7 year-old Sasha's pink coat with orange sash, scarf and gloves was my fave for the day, designed by J. Crew especially for the occasion. Not available for sale on the J. Crew website, I checked.

I thought the whole family looked splendid. I only wish Michelle had chosen to wear a hat. But hey, I respect her individual style and statement -- I guess hat's just aren't "her".

That's OK because Aretha Franklin wore a great hat! And sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" with heart and soul. AMEN.

Her hat reminded me of a photography book titled Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats. It's a wonderful book with striking images.

It was a day chock-full of creative expression. John Williams, known to millions of movie-goers as the man behind the score for the Star Wars films, wrote a special composition for the inauguration, which was performed by the violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Wow. Based on Shaker tune by Sydney Carter Lord of the Dance.

The most striking image for me yesterday was this one. And it reminds me the words of poet Elizabeth Alexander from her inaugural poem, Praise Song for the Day:

"On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."

A Thumb's Up day for America...

all around.


Anonymous said...

Sue, I echo your sentiments of the day! I must admit when I saw Michelle Obamhas coat, I thought to myself, "get me my scissors". I did NOT mean that in any dis-respectful way either. Debbie (Maine)

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Your post and picture selection captured the day and evening perfectly.

Marty52 said...

Well, I guess I'm shallow, too, because I was anxious to see what she wore. I'm always in a T-shirt and jeans, but I do appreciate a beautiful dress on a beautiful woman and we got that yesterday! The fabric was scrumptious!

verobirdie said...

Oh Gosh, Google has erased my comment.
Even as a Frenchie, I agree with your sentiments, especially as the list time I watch something special about USA at this time of day, was on 911, to watch the towers go down, in disbelief and dispair. What a contrast with yesterday!
I love the way Michelle Obama dresses, she is very inspiring. Even if that may be considered as vain, it participates to the retrieval of hope, in my opinion. How could you believe it is going to go better if the first lady is gloomy?
And her best accessory yesterday were her husband's arms around her, and his smile at her.
Yep, I'm a romantic.
Oh, And Aretha's hat was such a declaration in itself, so bold!

Anonymous said...

Oh Susan -
I have to admit when I checked your blog this morning (as I do almost every morning first thing!!) I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong - your pants were a lot of fun and your play day was great. But I was hoping for something more considering what yesterday was. Something made me check again and I LOVE this Inauguration Day post. We went downtown to the festivities and it was beyond great but I wanted something more and your post gave it to me.
Thank you (again) so much for doing this. I also loved Aretha's hat. It was perfect for her.
You rock Susan!!!!

Vicky aka Stichr said...

I was curious about what made the coat so texture-ous, so thank you for Goggling that.

I loved the long shots, before going to the Capital Building, of looking thru the White House doors as the First Ladies came out could see the 2 presidents pacing in the background. And then again of Mr. Obama- President Elect, coming down the hallways in the C. Building.

I thought Hillary looked great too!

coral-seas said...

I listened on a radio at work and I had tears in my eyes. Unfortunately the commentator talked althrough Yo-yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman but I listened to every word of his speach.

It was a memorable occasion.

Great post, Susan


Chrisy said...

Oh thank you so much for putting this love love the First Lady's choices...

Balwearie said...

You are so right about the threads -- it's not just about the fashion. After all, that ballgown does go to the Smithsonian. I'd love to know what made that yellow fabric sparkle as well -- I thought it was quite lovely! The textures were quite exciting. Call me "crazy" but I'd love to have a scrap of that for a quilt. :)

Mary Timme said...

Well, since I tried really hard not to see the inaugural one way or the other, it is nice to have such good photos of the clothes. Those are colors I can't wear but I think the Obama kids looked great and everything else was really appropriate and pretty. Hats or no hats it doesn't matter to me. Sometimes they are great and sometimes not on people. Ms. Obama is beautiful no matter what she wears.

FredaB said...


You said it all and I couldn't add anything to it but just to tell you that I received a call from my sister who lives in Toronto, Ontario who told me she cried as she watched it. People all over the world are watching and praying for the Obamas. I think they are still so in love with each other and it shows in a way that cannot be faked.
They are a wonderful family.

Thanks for the notes re her coat. I too was intrigued by the fabric.



Cathy said...

Susan, I loved your post. You captured it wonderfully from my perspective; loving the fabrics (where are my scissors?), loving the First Family, and the U.S. pride in that we have an intelligent, graceful, articulate and honest person at our helm. Historic, beautiful, overwhelming. I think the picture of Sasha giving a thumbs up sign will go down in history with little John-John Kennedy playing under his Daddy's desk.... Thank you, too, for the Perlman/Ma piece - hadn't heard it without interruption! Hugs, Cathy

One Crabapple said...

I searched and searched too ! I know exactly what you mean. Love the clothing, designers, color names, etc etc.

The Orange Gloved THUMBS UP was a Treat to behold.....

Your post is wonderful and I feel Your Joy thru it.

I loved the way you said you felt

Lifted Up On A Wave - !

Well said !

Thank You for enjoying the gown post.

Much Love and PEACE

ps. I MUST have that book on women and church hats. Thanks for the link !

Camilla La Mer-Soul Art Dolls said...

This is the nicest inaugural summary I have seen. I love your insights into fabrics and choices of fabrics for special occasions. I love Michelle's white ballgown and her inauguration outfit...Camilla

pam T said...

Susan - LOVED your post on the inauguration day! made me teary-eyed all over again!
I personally thought too that Michelle's ballgown was stunning, and I loved her outfit for the day - the color lemongrass will definitely be an "in" don't ya think?

Barbara C said...

Time magazine has great photos where you could see the textures on the Michelle Obama's coat. I kept wondering how warm she was, since she looked a lot less bundled up than everyone else.

Great post!

Pat Winter Gatherings said...

What a gorgeous couple they are, and beautiful family. I love how Michelle is her own woman, and doesn't give in to society's misconception that everything you wear must be designer for buku bucks. She is a wonderful role model and I look forward to the Obama's leadership.

Robin said...

This post goes right into my "All-time Favorite Posts" file. You've done all the work for me... all the pictures I want to preserve forever... from the white-gloved salute to Aretha's hat, from Michelle's beautiful smile and graceful presence to Shasha's laughter... and details of the fabrics and information I wanted about the designers... all here! Wow! Thank you!

Robin A.

Elizabeth said...

Robin is right this is a wonderful post!! I still get all teary when I think about it all what a glorious day!!

Did you get a chance to read Gene RObinsons opening prayer at the Concert on Sunday afternoon?? It to is amazing and one that i have added to mt scrape book along with the wonderful Benediction!!!
I am pretty sure that the sparkle on Michellles outfit comes from the shimmering sil underneath the wool lace. I bet hat the lace is as soft as butter - wouldn't you just love to get your hands on some just to feel it?? My favorite pictures have to be the ones of Barack and Michelle with their kids- thumbs up and smiles and the mouthed words of Malia to Dad- Good Job!!
our country is so very lucky to have been brought to this moment and to have been smart enough to grab it!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, what can I say - thank you so much for sharing your view of the festivities, the pictures, the video, and all! I will add this to my bookmarks.


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