Put aside politics, education and accomplishments. Even without those, first lady Michelle Obama has blazed a fashion trail.
Sure, there are the chic elements of Jacqueline Kennedy in her style, but Michelle Obama’s individual fashion deeply influences Jenna Elfman’s character, first lady Emily Nash Gilchrist, on NBC’s “1600 Penn.”
“I love what I am wearing,” Elfman says of a red two-piece outfit.
Costume designer Jennifer Eve was charged with creating a modern first lady.
“Historically all of our first ladies have reflected the times they live in,” Eve tells Zap2it. “It’s been an issue of class, power and femininity and what the public expects — and what we expect our role model females to look like. It’s a great, interesting time with Michelle Obama. She was the jumping-off point. I love everything about her.”
Gilchrist had a career before her husband (Bill Pullman) became president.
“She was a successful, powerful, respected businesswoman,” Eve says. “She was a strategist, and all of these things play into her wardrobe. She is innovative and bold. It is important for me to play with color combinations.”
She wears a lot of bright colors such as a blue dress, falling just above the knee in a classic cut.
“The silhouette is similar to what we stayed in,” Eve says. “She has incredible arms, so I was able to do sleeveless.”
Eve has fun with color, playing with unusual combinations.
“It was important for me to push the boundaries on what matches,” she says. “And what is classic pairing and what is a safe shoe to wear with that dress — to polarize and to take the color wheel and if a dress was a teal to go to the other side to put a hot poppy orange shoe on her.”
The teal top, paired with an olive-green skirt, is cinched with a teal, olive and purple belt. Her shoes pick up that purple trim. “It was aesthetically pleasing,” Eve says, about pulling together this outfit. “It just felt like what I liked about this first lady, and what I liked about what we are trying to do is to make her stylish, as if she is involved in the process. And create an accessibility for women. … So that was really what we were going for in general, the idea of pulling pieces to create style. And you can’t purchase style.”
Even though it’s difficult for viewers to see characters’ shoes, Eve says, “the shoe matters to me; it informs everything to me and the heel height and the shape and the color.”
Gilchrist goes a bit daring with leopard-print shoes, but they are still in a classic pump rather than a crazy lobster-claw high heel. “It is just a shoe which feels like a safe place but just like a little piece of subversive funk with it,” Eve says.