Michelle and Barack Obama’s official presidential portraits were unveiled at the Smithsonian’s national Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., today.
Amy Sherald painted Michelle Obama, seen wearing a custom Milly gown similar to a runway dress from the designer’s Spring 2017 collection. Co-founder and creative director, Michelle Smith designed the dress in New York City specifically for the portrait.
The long, colorful gown is made of stretch cotton poplin. The dress’s colorful geometric patterns stand out against the pale blue background that Sherald painted.
The dress was chosen largely because of the geometric shapes, representative of Piet Mondrian’s geometric paintings. The geometrics also allude to quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend: a small, black community in Alabama where geometric quilts are created to look like masterpieces.
The gown is central to the painting and a testament to Michelle Obama’s fun style during her years as First Lady. She dressed brighter, bolder, and trendier than former First Ladies. Although Michelle Obama didn’t wear a lot of Milly pieces during Obama’s presidency, she did wear a Milly striped top with statement sleeves during her last stroll through the White House.