U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive for the Comander-in-Chief's Inaugural Ball at the Walter Washington Convention Center January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama was sworn-in for his second term of office earlier in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Designer Jason Wu just got doubly famous.
The man behind Michelle Obama's bridal-esque inaugural confection from four years ago returned to the White House inaugural stage - this time in ravishing red.
It was the first time a designer had scored a one-two punch since Nancy Reagan and James Galanos graced the balls in the 1980s. Some fashion watchers expressed surprise that the first lady didn't opt to pluck another unknown designer from obscurity and put them on the fashion map.
Baring her famous biceps, Obama chose a shimmery ruby halter gown cut from chiffon and velvet with a keyhole neckline, belted waist and plunging back. Her hair, straight for the swearing-in ceremony, was feathered slightly to the side. On her left wrist, a stack of sparkling bangles. On her finger, a diamond ring from Kimberly McDonald. On her feet, matching red satin Jimmy Choo pumps.
The dress was a modern departure from the frilly white one-shouldered gown she wore during the first inaugural. Speaking on CNN, Elle creative director Joe Zee called the ruby shade "optimistic." The last first lady to wear red to an inaugural ball was Laura Bush in Texan Michael Faircloth's design, for her husband's first term.
"Some may dispute the quality of our president, but nobody disputes the quality of our first lady," President Obama said by way of announcing his "date."
For the hours preceding the reveal, all of Twitter was asking, "Where is it?" After what seemed like an interminable drum roll of speeches and introductions at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball, the main event - the first lady - waltzed out to wild applause and into fashion history.
The reaction online was equally wild, with assessments of "stunning" and "superb." Posted Kate Betts, author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style: "I like it - sleek and still romantic, and powerful!" As @deedeeindc put it: "Waited all day. And the dress did not disappoint."
Sure, tomato is on trend. But InStyle editor Ariel Foxman liked the "elegant, eye-catching" Wu repeat for loftier reasons. "The first lady managed to quickly punctuate weeks of speculation and perhaps de-emphasize weeks of ongoing dress deliberation to come," he said. "Mrs. Obama dressed the part but is able to move the conversation along, to focus on other matters that concern her, the president and the American people."
Nevertheless, minutes after the unveiling, Wu's website crashed.
Since he exploded onto the style scene in 2009, thanks to Obama, Wu has dressed everyone from Target shoppers (his 2012 collection sold out in hours) to red carpet walkers (Diane Kruger, Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Saldana).