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Fashionistas have designs on the Obamas - Brooklyn Paper

Fashionistas have designs on the Obamas

Classic beauty: Ngozi Odita of Harriet’s Alter Ego in Park Slope created two quintessential Michelle Obama get-ups: a deep purple jersey-knit tube dress, paired with a gray wrap cardigan, and a full brown dress with a draping neck, accentuated with a handmade batik belt.
The Brooklyn Paper / Adrian Kinloch

When Barack and Michelle Obama move into the White House, some people will be watching more than just how the First Couple solves the financial crisis.

Brooklyn’s finest designers will be watching their clothes!

“People cannot stop talking about Mrs. Obama’s style, and I’m a huge fan myself,” said Williamsburg fashion designer Leslie Robertson.

Stylists nationwide have shared their two cents on her style — and Michelle has given them plenty to rave about: There was the J. Crew outfit that she wore on Jay Leno in which she sophistically paired a cream silk skirt, yellow cardigan and yellow and brown silk tank, and the bright pink Maria Pinto sheath she wore on the cover of More magazine.

Michelle is sweetly modest about her wardrobe choices. “I can be comfortable in anything,” she recently told the Telegraph, a British newspaper. But the truth is she has impeccable style in the way she pulls off “anything,” be it bright colors or the perfectly appropriate, yet form-fitting dress.

Her husband has a stylish side, too, though it was hard to see it on the campaign trail, where dark suits, white shirts and red or blue ties are the norm (though he did get bonus points from fashionistas for his perfectly tailored, made-to-order suits).

The Brooklyn Paper / Adrian Kinloch

If designers are so excited by this First Couple, it’s partly because so few White House occupants have had any sense of style at all, explained Ngozi Odita from the Harriet’s Alter Ego, a boutique on Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights.

“You don’t necessarily think of saying, ‘Wow, the First Lady is so stylish,’” Odita said. “But with Michelle, you see her in fashion magazine spreads. She’s definitely a style icon.”

And her future president husband?

“He’s a little traditional, but I like the casual thing when he wears no tie with his suit. That looks good,” said Ouigi Theodore of the Brooklyn Circus label. “But he has to take the JFK route and take that look to inspire younger men to get more into their style.”

This week, GO Brooklyn asked several Brooklyn designers to interpret the First Couple’s style, and create a perfect Brooklyn outfit for the incoming leader of the free world and the missus.

Ngozi Odita, Harriet’s Alter Ego

Without missing a beat, Odita said she knew exactly what Michelle would pick out in the store: a deep purple cotton jersey tube dress with gathered fabric and grabbed a gray wrap cardigan. Odita and her partner, Hekima Hapa, designed the look with ease and flexibility in mind, she explained.

“Michelle is very stylish, but she adds her own flair,” Odita said. “Her items are basic in the sense that it’s always solid colors, but [the pieces] will have interesting details, and you see the personality that she brings to it.”

The weekender: The Brooklyn Circus label (Ouigi Theodore, left, with store manager Bevin Elias) created this outfit for Barack: a light wool and tweedy button-down shirt, paired with a burgundy cardigan emblazoned with a wooly “B” (for Barack or Brooklyn), with jeans and a brushed cotton jacket.
The Brooklyn Paper / Adrian Kinloch

And Odita offered an alternative outfit: a brown cotton dress with a draping neck, secured and accentuated with a blue and white handmade batik belt.

“They’re solid colors and they’re fun pieces, but they are classic,” Odita said. “Plus, cotton is a very forgiving fabric, and it’s great if you’re curvy — and Michelle Obama is curvy!”

Harriet’s Alter Ego [293 Flatbush Ave., between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, (718) 783-2074]. Other info at www.harrietsalteregoonline.com.

Ouigi Theodore, Brooklyn Circus

At his Boerum Hill men’s boutique by the same name, Theodore whipped together two weekend outfits for Barack, both with enough grace to transition to Monday with a pair of nice slacks.

“We wanted to put him in a nice mixed of a look — not too dressy but not too relaxed because one, he’s a father and two, he’s a president and he’s leading a country,” Theodore said. “But we totally agreed that Barack needs a hipper look.”

First up was a light wool and tweed button-down shirt, paired with a burgundy cardigan emblazoned with a woolly “B,” all by Theodore’s label, BKc. (Long before Obama was elected, Theodore had called this the “Barack Cardigan.”)

The second look was a black BKc denim jacket with brass buttons over a gray cashmere double-breasted cardigan. Burgundy is a good color for Obama, and Theodore brought out his label’s deep purple knit cotton shirt.

Pratt Institute fashion designer Lina Fedirko envisions a dashing look for the first couple.
Lina Fedirko

“We’re doing the casual meets a little dressy look, so he can jump on the runway to the White House,” Theodore explained. “Sometimes Barack needs to be low key but still have an edge and a dash of style.”

The Brooklyn Circus [150 Nevins St., at Bergen Street in Boerum Hill, (718) 858-0919]. Other info at www.thebkcircus.com.

Cochrane, fashion designer

Nothing says power like a pair of high-heeled patent leather boots and a leather pencil skirt, so for Bedford-Stuyvesant–based Cochrane, such a combination was only natural.

“Michelle Obama is a sophisticated and intelligent woman who will wear the term ‘First Lady’ well,” he said. “She is as consistent with her wit as she is with her sense of style, so I thought why not combine those attributes into one ensemble?”

Cochrane’s design combines Michelle’s athletic figure with the high fashion of the season: a fancy wool jacket with mahogany wood buttons, lined with leather piping with full, thespian sleeves. The ultra-stylish jacket is a feisty addition to the black leather pencil skirt, which keeps the outfit professional.

Lina Fedirko, fashion student, Pratt Institute

Fedirko dresses the Obamas in chic, fresh designs — a sort of classic meets updated style.

The Ukranian-born Pratt Institute senior, who learned to sew from her seamstress grandmother, dressed the president-elect in a dark, fitted suit with a bright blue tie.

The Brooklyn-based designer Cochrane combined wit and style in this outfit: a military-style wool jacket with wooden buttons and a thespian sleeve, worn with a black leather pencil skirt and patent leather boots. And it’s topped off with a Hillary-resembling head.
Cochrane

She had a bit more fun with the future First Lady’s outfit, and paired red and purple with black — typically not a natural combination, but one that’s hot this year. Fedirko imagined Michelle wearing a full, black jacket with an oversized collar, purple trim and an ochre-yellow lining that fans over a black pencil skirt and a dark red cashmere sweater.

“The designs are inspired by current trends in silhouettes and color, which I embodied in a classic shape,” Fedirko said. “My biggest influences come from architecture and sculpture. I like to incorporate interesting piecing, intricate detailing and unconventional silhouettes.”

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