January 20, 2009
President, Wife Kick off Night of Balls With ‘Neighbors’
The night of inaugural balls began with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama making their first stop at the Neighborhood Ball, an event with a focus on inclusion for all Americans, particularly residents of Obama’s new home Washington D.C.
In the months leading up to the Inauguration Day, along with waiting for the moment that Obama would officially become the commander-in-chief, many had been anticipating and forecasting exactly what Mrs. Obama would wear to the night’s balls.
Tonight, they watched as she took to the stage wearing a white, chiffon, one-shouldered gown by 26-year-old, Taiwan-born designer Jason Wu.
Obama began the celebration by complimenting her choice, saying, “First of all, how good-looking is my wife?”
The full-skirted dress, which featured sparking appliquÃ©, will be donated to the Smithsonian Institution per tradition. The young designer got a major boost into the national spotlight last month when the first lady wore an ensemble from his spring 2009 collection for her interview with Barbara Walters. He once told the Wall Street Journal that Mrs. Obama wearing a design of his for the inauguration was “a long shot.â€
The president decided to wear a custom tuxedo by Chicago-based designer Hart Schaffner Marx. He accented it with a white bow tie.
The Neighborhood Ball, which aired live on ABC at 8 p.m., included music performances by Beyonce, who sung her cover of Etta James’ “At Last,â€ followed by a star-studded rendition of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Deliveredâ€ featuring Sting, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Will.i.am, and Stevie himself. Jay-Z also performed a special song for the occasion.
There were other performances including one by acrobatic dancers from the Anti-Gravity School of Dance, and stand-up by Raymond Ramano of “Everybody Loves Raymond.â€
This is the first time in history for an inaugural ball of this size to have so many superstar performers, open access for the public, reasonably priced tickets, and it was even available via a live blog. President Obama and Vice President Biden committed to making their inauguration the most open and inclusive in history, with the Neighborhood Ball as a prime example of their adhering to that promise.
The president and first lady are visiting 10 official balls tonight, after a day of formal ceremonies in the nation’s capital.
Earlier today, Michelle stepped out in a gold dress and matching jacket from Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo for her husband’s swearing-in ceremony. She paired the outfit with olive green gloves by J. Crew and green shoes. Their daughters also wore clothing from the chain shop to their father’s inauguration, with Malia wearing a royal blue jacket and Sasha wearing a pale pink coat.
The Obamas have a long night ahead of them as they are expected to attend numerous balls. In addition to the Home States Ball for Illinois and Hawaii, the Obamas shared a dance with each other and two lucky members of the armed forces at the Commander-in-Chief’s Inaugural Ball.