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Fashion first-forward

The contrasting gowns of the US and Mexican first ladies were the highlight of a recent White House banquet.

fashion and trends Updated: May 23, 2010 00:51 IST

Micelle ObamaMichelle Obama stuck to some of her fashion favourites for the state dinner on Wednesday honouring Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala — a one-shouldered silhouette, a belted waist, a bold colour — and designer Peter Soronen.

This was the fourth time the first lady chose a gown by the New York-based Soronen, who has had his own label since 2000 but has largely flown under the fashion industry’s radar. Soronen said he knew the corset-style gown, complete with lace-up back, was being considered for Wednesday’s lavish event that drew about 200 people, including celebrities Whoopi Goldberg, Eva Longoria-Parker and George Lopez.

But he didn’t know for sure until a reporter from The Associated Press called asking for confirmation after Mrs Obama stepped out on the President’s arm. “In some ways, it’s more exciting not to know and just wait for the photo,” Soronen said.

Other designers who contribute to Mrs Obama’s eveningwear wardrobe have said it also works that way. They make custom gowns with the understanding that there’s no guarantee if, when or where she’ll wear them.

Soronsen hasn’t met the first lady yet, but he said he’d like to. “It’s a clever, memorable, sophisticated choice,” said Avril Graham, executive fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, of the cobalt-coloured gown. “It’s one of my favourites that she’s worn. It’s all so right, so picture-perfect right.”

Zavala, meanwhile, wore a plum-coloured gown with a square neckline bordered in blue by Macario Jiminez. It was a more subdued and traditional choice, but the brighter colours of the Aztec-inspired top was a nice nod to her roots.

“Thankfully the first ladies did not duel in the fashion stakes with Margarita Zavala playing down the glitz and keeping to simple good mannerly lines, allowing Michelle to shine,” said Graham.

First Published: May 22, 2010 16:49 IST