ABC News’ Kristi Berner reports: The biggest party night of 2009 is less than a week away and speculation is rampant: what will Michelle Obama wear to her coming out ball as First Lady? We are definitely looking forward to seeing what Mrs. Obama will choose, for two reasons. First, what lucky designer will get to dress the Queen of America (and can I afford/beg/borrow/steal a dress by said designer)? And more importantly for the nation, what kind of message will the newly-minted FLOTUS send to her worshiping subjects? With the nation’s economy on skids, historians and fashion designers alike say to expect a more subdued version this time around. We spoke to designer Reem Acra, one of a couple dozen internationally-known designers who created hypothetical inaugural gown sketches at the request of Women’s Wear Daily. Acra, known for her evening wear and bridal designs, says she had three images in mind when designing an ensemble for the Obama family. She sees the Obama’s as 1) Understated, 2) Proper, and 3) Very American. Acra said she sketched outfits for Malia and Sasha, as well as the President-elect, because she thinks of the Obama’s as a well-coordinated family, whether it be in fashion or their personal life. "Inauguration night is very important for the First Lady," Acra said. "The whole world is watching to see what she will wear. There is a lot of pressure." One of the gowns Acra sketched for Michelle Obama was red, with simple lines and a few subtle details, including Acra’s signature embroidery. "Red might be considered too loud by some people, but it’s a very inaugural color. A red dress would look great on Michelle."
Mrs. Obama’s choice of inaugural gown could be the first clue as to how she will handle her new role. Will she be sensitive to the economic crisis? Will she outshine her husband? Will she still seem accessible to regular Americans? We Americans want our First Lady to be both a queen and a commoner – and that’s not an easy balancing act. Queen of Camelot Jacqueline Kennedy became the White House’s first fashion icon, and it all started with her self-designed ivory gown and cape which caused a sensation the night of JFK’s 1961 inauguration. One thing is definite in our 24/7 celebrity-obsessed culture, whatever choice Mrs. Obama makes it will be scrutinized by the morning talk shows the next day — just like the Narciso Rodriquez black and red dress she wore on election night. Click here for a slideshow of Michelle Obama’s fashion choices during the Presidential campaign.