A secondhand first?

First lady Michelle Obama, in a 1950s Norman Norell, and her mother, Marian Robinson, joined some Santa's helpers.
First lady Michelle Obama, in a 1950s Norman Norell, and her mother, Marian Robinson, joined some Santa's helpers. (Manuel Balce Ceneta)

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Michelle Obama made fashion headlines yet again by wearing a vintage cocktail dress to the "Christmas in Washington" concert, which aired on TNT Friday night. It's believed to be the first time a first lady has appeared in a secondhand gown.

The black lace 1950s dress - square neckline, sweeping full skirt - was created by Norman Norell, a top American fashion designer who died in 1972. Obama purchased it from New York Vintage in Manhattan, a high-end store for couture clothing that dates back to the early 1800s, reports the Huffington Post. The owners would not disclose how much the first lady paid for the one-of-a-kind dress, but top-quality vintage pieces now easily run into four figures.

The choice of vintage proves that Obama's approach to red-carpet dressing has much more in common with Hollywood than traditional Washington, reports our colleague Robin Givhan. Vintage designer dresses are very popular with style-savvy actresses who frequent Decades and Lily et Cie shops in Los Angeles. Expect more secondhand on the first lady: The New York boutique owners said she purchased other pieces that will be unveiled later.


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