First Lady Fashion First-Michelle Obama Wears Vintage Norman Norell

It warms my vintage loving heart that Michelle Obama wore a gorgeous 1950s vintage Norman Norell black lace cocktail dress on the  TNT Christmas in Washington Special that aired Dec. 17th.  According to this  Huffington Post article she found the dress at New York Vintage, a shop known for their collectible, one of a kind, couture designer pieces.

Here is a photo of her wearing the fabulous frock. It’s classic 50s style with square cut neckline, fitted bodice and full gathered skirt.  This is a  timeless  silhouette that flatters just about any figure.

Michelle Obama in Vintage Norman Norell

Michelle Obama is known for her eclectic fashion choices. From wearing gowns from lesser known designers to outfits from Gap and J. Crew. And now this first lady fashion first of wearing an authentic vintage designer dress.   Personally, I prefer a First Lady who  takes  somes chances with her fashion choices, even though sometimes,  it doesn’t meet everyone’s approval. But,  to quote Ricky Nelson, “You can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

After reading a gazillion posts and comments this morning about this now wildly infamous dress, I felt I needed to clarify a couple of  things since there seems to be some misinformation out there about it.

#l. Its a thrifted,  hand me down, used dress. Yes, it is definitely a pre worn dress,  but owning a preowned vintage Norman Norell is the fashion equivalent to owning a rare classic car. Norman Norell pieces are often displayed in museums.  Here is a photo of one of his dresses from the Costume Institute at the  Metropolitan Museum of Art.   It’s a very similar style to the one Michelle Obama wore.  Norell was a Coty Fashion Award winner and is considered one of the most influential designers in US fashion history, making his clothing extremely collectible.

1955 Norman Norell dress

1955 Norman Norell dress from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

And to paraphrase from a blog comment I read , “comparing  New York Vintage to a thrift store is like comparing  Sotheby’s to a used furniture store.”  Precisely!

#2. The dress cost $2500.00. The fact is there is not one article that states she actually paid $2500 for the dress. There are several articles that state the price was not divulged, but the price has been ESTIMATED at $2500. Big difference. Here’s an example from the New York Post.

“The store’s owners would not say how much the first lady paid for the dress, but prices for vintage clothing have risen dramatically as quality pieces have become wildly popular among celebrities and on the red carpet. One estimate for this hand-me-down was $2,500. “

For all we know, the owners of the boutique gave the dress to Michelle Obama knowing it would be a great way to get publicity for their business.  Designers and boutique owners do it all the time for celebrities. Heck, if I knew Michelle Obama was interested in wearing one of my dresses, I’d be happy to donate it to her. And as anyone who is  involved in the business of collectibles knows, whether clothing, art or antiques,  estimated value compared to actual realized price differs based on market demand, condition, rarity and provenance.  I can say one thing for sure, no matter what someone thought it was worth or what the price was originally, now  that the First Lady has worn it, the resale value definitely has increased immensely!

Being an advocate of classic, chic, ladylike clothing,  especially vintage, I think it is wonderful that our First Lady made this fashion choice.   And though there are many out there that loathe the fact that she is considered a style icon, the fact remains the public has always had a fascination with the wardrobe choices of first ladies. And some have definitely been more stylish than others. But in the case of Michelle Obama, I love the fact she has now put timeless vintage fashion in the spotlight, where IMO it deserves to be!

So what do you think of Michelle Obama’s Christmas Special dress? Do you feel it will result in more of an appreciation for vintage clothing in general?

By | 2014-02-17T09:08:01-04:00 December 19th, 2010|Celebrities, Fashion|Comments Off on First Lady Fashion First-Michelle Obama Wears Vintage Norman Norell

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Theresa, owner and chief classy dame at the Blue Velvet Vintage online boutique. Lover of mid century fashion and home decor, classic films, Old Hollywood, pretty dresses, red lipstick, swing dancing and retro culture in general. Between my ecommere site and vintage style blog my mission is to revive the eras of classy dressing and inspire women to add more glamour to their lives! So don't be shy! I love to hear from others who share my appreciation of the styles of the past.