Feb. 23, 2011— -- A White House secret is out: Michelle Obama takes her fashion cues from a 29-year-old Midwest clothier whose primary focus is making the first lady look fabulous.
While Obama has insisted that she dresses herself, a recent report has forced the White House to confirm that she gets wardrobe help from Meredith Koop, a stylist who had worked for Obama's previous unofficial stylist, Ikram Goldman.
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Goldman, a celebrated fashionista and the owner of an exclusive Chicago boutique, was widely viewed as Obama's dresser-in-chief. She hand-picked an ivory chiffon Jason Wu gown for President Obama's inaugural, along with other iconic looks. Goldman also sent Koop, her protege, to work with Obama as her assistant. In recent months, however, rumors began circulating that Koop had taken over and Goldman was out.
Confirmation came after Koop's hair colorist, Vera Chamberlin, blabbed to a reporter that Koop seemed to be in charge of picking Obama's wardrobe. Chamberlin said in a story published Monday in the Washington Post that when Koop was in her chair she'd take calls on her mobile phone regarding clothes she was ordering for the first lady
Chamberlin, who works at Immortal Beloved, a D.C. salon near Logan Circle, told the paper that Koop lamented she could not go to shows on the fashion circuit because she needed to "focus on what is right for the first lady."
From Koop, Chamberlin learned that she was charged with choosing that hats Obama and her daughters would wear at the Kentucky Derby, and the dresses they would wear to meet Queen Elizabeth II. She also talked about Koop's flair for understanding how one should "dress for your shape."
Chamberlin did not return a phone call from ABCNews seeking comment.
Since Chamberlain's comments were published, the White House has been inundated with media inquiries about the role Koop plays in dressing the first lady. It's a delicate topic, especially during a time of national austerity when Congress and the president are in a verbal tug-of-war over where to cut tens of billions from the federal budget.