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First Lady of Fashion?

1:16 PM, Dec 3, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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narciso.jpgObama in Narciso Rodriguez on Nov. 4

Move over Sarah Jessica, Sienna, and Mrs. Tom Cruise--Michelle Obama is the fashion industry's newest It Girl.

Couturiers from Chicago to New York can't conceal their excitement over the fashion Camelot that will come to D.C. on January 20th. Women's Wear Daily, in fact, published 35 sketches of inaugural gowns for the soon-to-be First Lady, ranging from classic Michael Kors to wild Betsey Johnson designs. And many of Obama's favorites (Chicago-based designer Maria Pinto, for example) aren't included, though they must be in the running. WWD notes that "designers are positively euphoric" because "the American fashion industry hasn't had a catch this big since, well, since another icon of Democratic chic took up residency on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1961."

With a more daring and less classic taste than Jackie Kennedy, Obama gets a privilege only available to the likes of red-carpet-walking starlets and French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld--wearing a fresh-off-the-runway design before it hits retail stores. Both the Narciso Rodriguez dress she wore on Election Night (pictured) and the Jason Wu dress she wore for the recent Barbara Walters interview are Spring 2009 creations from the September runways.

The hype about Michelle Obama's style is breathless, especially after her Election Night disaster. But if she keeps American designers in business during an economy that's unkind to couture, fashionistas everywhere should be appreciative of her style. Perhaps we'll see her front row at Fashion Week?