updated 24 Mar 2014, 12:07
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Fri, Mar 21, 2014
China Daily/Asia News Network
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Fashionable First Ladies: Peng Liyuan and Michelle Obama
by Gan Tian

Invited by China's first lady Peng Liyuan, US first lady Michelle Obama is visiting China with her daughters this week. The two ladies will definitely attract attention in terms of fashion. Peng turned the world onto Chinese designer Ma Ke and the label Exception de Mixmind, while Mrs. Obama has made famous the American designer Jason Wu, along with Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren. Before their styles meet, let us review some of the attractive moments the two First Ladies have had under the public eye.

First Strike

Michelle Obama wore a Thom Browne design to the US Presidential Inauguration. The Fist Lady arrived at St. John's Church in Washington DC, wearing a checked-pattern overcoat. Her dark pink gloves were also highlights of her outfit. The designer said he was asked to send an idea to the White House before, but wasn't told Michelle Obama would be wearing it. He said to the Times, "I wanted her to feel good in it and to feel comfortable, strong, feminine and beautiful."

Peng, who accompanied her husband President Xi Jinping on his first state visit to Russia, wore a navy blue coat from designer Ma Ke. Her overcoat, together with the square black handbag, was very elegant. Her look's highlight was in her light-blue scarf, adding a light style to her classic look.


Peng Liyuan used different shades of blue to create a flowing style, such as a long dark blue shirt matching a light blue skirt. The best part was her thin leather belt, in milky white, which added something fresh to her total look. Michelle Obama, on the other hand, used a cape-like shirt to match a cherry one-piece long dress. Her belt featured a few metallic touches, which went well with her ring.

White shirt

Michelle Obama's white shirt was tight, with giant flounces. It was feminine, stylish, and delivered a strong and independent office look. Peng Liyuan's white shirt, on the other hand, was wide in the cuffs and shoulders. It was elegant, classic, and especially so when she matched it with a same colour tote and earrings.

Formal suit

Michelle Obama picked a baby blue suit for an official ceremony to welcome British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife. The suit was a Zac Posen design. Peng Liyuan, on one formal occasion, wore a dark gray-and-green suit. However, she skillfully used a silk scarf, and she is known for her well-matched scarves!

Conclusion: a promotion of home brands

The two First Ladies' power in fashion lies in their promotion of home-grown brands and designers.

Peng, who accompanied her husband President Xi Jingping on his first state visit to Russia, stepped off the airplane in Moscow on March 22, 2013, and caused a big stir among the country's fashion world. Her navy blue coat was from Ma Ke, a very low-key designer. Ma, now running her new label Wu Yong (which means "useless"), is now a house-hold name in China.

On the other hand, Michelle Obama wore Jason Wu, Thom Browne, and J Crew. Jason Wu is now one of the top-tier designers in the world. Before Mrs. Obama, Thom Browne was a normal fast fashion brand, but after the US first lady wore his clothes frequently on public occasions, his label became extremely popular. J Crew is also a successful example. A cashmere sweater, worn by Michelle Obama in meetings, sold out within hours once the public saw her in it.

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