While Malia Obama has been living her best life in New York—dining at Soho spots like Café Select and Emilio’s Ballato, interning for the Weinstein Co., partying with Lena Dunham and Jenna Lyons—her parents have been taking their own gap year across the Atlantic, venturing across Italy without political obligations. Earlier this week, Barack and Michelle Obama were spotted in the small Tuscan town of Montalcino, roaming the ancestral homeland of good wine, high art, and olives. (Nearby Florence might get all the attention for its historic galleries of Renaissance art, picturesque plazas, and excellent food, but Montalcino is really where the vineyards get good.)
The former first lady always cuts a chic silhouette, even when dressing for a state dinner or international audience. While in the White House, she worked with her aide Meredith Koop to select looks for each event, choosing labels and pieces with both geopolitical and sartorial resonance. She was an early adopter of designers like Brandon Maxwell and Jason Wu, for whom her stamp of approval proved a massive boon; for the Obamas’ final state dinner, with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, she wore spectacular Atelier Versace. But in Italy, she has cut loose, adapting her already canny sensibility for vacation.
Her wardrobe, which has consisted largely of open-shouldered tops and trousers, demonstrates Michelle is truly, finally, deservedly off duty. While the internet set itself ablaze when she appeared for a portrait in a sleeveless dress near the beginning of her husband’s tenure—how scandalous—on this vacation, she answers to no one. She caused a bit of an internet furor yet again in Italy, albeit a more appreciative response: Her open-shouldered, lace-up white Club Monaco top, paired with BCBG cargo pants and an Elizabeth & James cuff, was both on trend and a departure from her more staid White House looks.
It's actually quite a daring ensemble, slouchy and revealing. She might just as well be heading for the beach as a touristing excursion around Italy. Whatever the occasion, she's in consummate vacation mode.
Her next Tuscany look was a one-shouldered pink blouse by the Finnish designer Teija, a Burberry alum, paired with cropped white pants. (The top is already almost sold out, proving the Michelle fashion effect hasn’t been diluted since she departed the White House.) She stopped for gelato—chocolate—and wandered through the narrow cobbled streets as passersby whipped out their phones to capture a rare sighting of Michelle post-D.C.
Her husband got all the attention during their yachting jaunt earlier this year, hobnobbing with his close personal friends like Bruce Springsteen in Tahiti and kitesurfing in the Caribbean with billionaire Richard Branson.
But in Italy—not that it’s a competition—it’s Michelle’s show. (Barack, for his part, has loosened up his collar, foregoing a tie and jacket.) Michelle Obama is, at last, off duty and doing the most—at least for now.
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