Here’s the real story behind the dress everyone is talking about today.
Former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were immortalized today. Their official portraits, his painted by Kehinde Wylie and hers by Amy Sherald, were revealed inside the Smithsonian Museum this morning, and both were far from traditional. Mr. Obama is pictured seated in a chair surrounded by a heaping mass of vibrant flowers, while his wife is captured in a halter gown printed with geometric shapes. The dress was a bespoke creation from American designer Michelle Smith of the label Milly, based on a look from her Spring 2017 collection. At today’s unveiling, Sherald spoke about how the dress reminded her of a quilt from Gee’s Bend—a quiet, all-black community in Alabama that became widely known for its craft. She also noted that the colors were reminiscent of Mondrian. But the actual thinking behind the dress was quite different, according to Smith, who worked on the project alongside Obama’s stylist Meredith Koop. Smith says it was meant to be “a dress that Mrs. Obama could wear in her everyday life, as well as in this iconic portrait.”