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It was one of the biggest questions of Monday's inaugural celebrations: not what would President Barack Obama say, but what would his wife, Michelle Obama, wear?

The first lady cemented her reputation as an international style trend-setter with her choice of a Jason Wu red sleeveless ball gown in the evening, and a striking business-style blue navy coat and dress for the ceremonial daytime events.

It was a huge win for U.S. designer Wu making one of his ball gowns her choice for a second straight inauguration.

The first lady appeared for her first dance of the night with the president at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball for U.S. service members in a ruby-colored chiffon and full-length velvet gown custom made by the New York-based designer.

Her shoes were from the London-based Malaysian-Chinese designer Jimmy Choo, and she wore a diamond-embellished ring handmade by jeweler Kimberly McDonald of New York.

Michelle Obama helped make Wu a household name by choosing a white chiffon gown he designed for the balls celebrating her husband's first inauguration in 2009. Wu, now 30, has since had significant commercial success, but his creations in the two inaugurations has won him a place in U.S. fashion history.

Dressing the first lady, a Harvard-trained lawyer known for her style, can be a huge boost for a fashion designer or retail chain.

 

Jean Paul Gaultier chose swirling translucent veils, the sound of sitars, and the insouciance of Gypsy culture for his haute couture show on Tuesday, while Valentino opted for an ethereal yet decorative look that evoked the bloom of the Renaissance.

The Spring 2013 collections presented on Wednesday by the two design houses, one French and one Italian, found inspiration from different epochs and parts of the globe, pointing to the diversity seen during Paris Fashion Week, the creme de la creme of the global fashion industry.

Gaultier, often labeled the bad boy of French fashion, turned eastward to India for inspiration, transporting his audience to Rajasthan, with sinewy models sporting oversized earrings and billowy veils in periwinkle, tangerine and pink.

         

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