For her second inaugural appearance, Michelle Obama chose Thom Browne, an American designer best known for his 12-year-old menswear line. The first lady has worn items from his womenswear collection -- which he launched in September 2010 -- in the past, also having donned one of his dresses to the Democratic National Convention and one of the presidential debates last year.
On Monday, she was stunning in Browne's navy silk jacquard coat and dress in a checked pattern that the designer says was based on a men’s necktie fabric. Does her choice of a menswear feel -- by an acclaimed menswear designer -- signal that she's getting down to business this term?
Browne, who met Mrs. Obama at the White House when he received the National Design Award during the summer, only found out she had selected his outfit after she debuted it on TV. He had been invited to send in a design several months ago. But he was in still in Paris on business, following his menswear show held there Sunday, when he began seeing emails and tweets.
"It is one of those rare moments in someone’s career that you will always remember," he told The New York Times. "There¹s not a word that can really describe it. It’s just amazing."
Browne got a business degree from the University of Notre Dame and initially started working as an actor, mostly in TV commercials. He sold his car to become a tailor in New York, which is what he calls "the most valuable kind of training you can get."
He worked at Armani's showroom and for Ralph Lauren at Club Monaco in the late '90s and set up his own bespoke shop in Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood in 2001. He introduced his men's ready-to-wear collection in 2004. The next year, he won a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund award of $50,000 and a mentorship.
In 2006, he won the Fashion Group's Rising Star Award for Menswear and also the CFDA Menswear of the Year Award. With Obama's powerful endorsement, he's probably going to be nominated for his womenswear collection soon.