As Michelle Obama wows in cobalt for the State of the Union address, how Barbara Tfank became her go-to girl for major events


As Michelle Obama wows in cobalt for the State of the Union address, how Barbara Tfank became her go-to girl for major events
The designer's classic creations have become a firm favourite with the First Lady, who has worn them for some of her most high-profile moments.

At the State of the Union address last night, Michelle Obama's cobalt dress made for a searing pop of colour in a sea of suits and subdued hues.

But lovely though it was, it didn't come cheap. The dress was a design by Barbara Tfank, a favourite with the First Lady, whose designs can sell for over $2,000.

Indeed, some have questioned whether such an expensive choice was appropriate, given that she was seated next to Jackie Bray, a single mother from King’s Mountain, North Carolina who put herself through community college to boost her career prospects after getting laid off from her job.

Michelle Obama

Bold choice: Michelle Obama in Barbara Tfank at the State of the Union address last night. But some consider her expensive dress inappropriate, given that she was seated next to Jackie Bray, a single mother who put herself through community college after getting laid off

Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama

On trend: The First Lady's dress was hailed Mrs Obama's dress a sartorial hit, especially given that she has given the design a unique twist, accessorising with an oversized brooch by New York jeweller Alexis Bittar

Ms Bray's success has been hailed an example of the type of partnership between
businesses and community colleges that President Obama hopes will maximize job opportunities and work placements.

Political critics aside, the style
set have hailed Mrs Obama's dress a sartorial hit, especially given that
she has given the design a unique twist, accessorising with an
oversized brooch by New York jeweller Alexis Bittar.

Of course, this is not the first time
Mrs Obama has worn the label. Barbara Tfank has become something of a
go-to designer for her most important occasions.

She chose a Tfank creation for one of
her most high-profile photo opportunities of last year: to meet the
Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London.

US first lady Michelle Obama, Tuesday May 24, 2011

US first lady Michelle Obama, Tuesday May 24, 2011

Fashion favourite: Mrs Obama chose a Tfank creation for one of her most high-profile photo opportunities of last year: to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London last May

The dress, from the resort 2011
collection and worth around $2,000, had a floral print, co-ordinating
waistband and full, prom-style skirt.

Evidently altered especially for Mrs
Obama, the dress differed sightly from the version put on sale by the
label in that a bow on the waistband had been removed.

The addition of a bright pink opera jacket added a splash of colour, silver heels and yet another brooch completed the look.

It comes as little surprise that the First Lady loves the label so much. The first time she wore it, she was snapped by a White House photographer in a picture that has become one of the most famous of her husband's time as President.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk along the Colonnade of the White House, Sept. 21, 2010

Memorable moment: The first time Mrs Obama wore Barbara Tfank, in September 2010, she was captured in a photograph that has become one of the most famous of her husband's time as President

Walking along the Colonnade, the
knee-length green and blue printed dress, worn with bright pink shoes
and a double string of pearls, looks as timeless as the setting.

The couple had been on their way to a ceremony to presents the Medal of Honor posthumously to the sons of U.S. Air Force Chief
Master Sgt Etchberger for bravery in March of 1968 in Laos.

If it seems as though Barbara Tfank creations all seem to share a retro feel to them, you would not be far off the mark.

The Los Angeles-based designer, who trained as a costumier and designed costumes for a number of movies in the Nineties, is heavily influenced by the Fifties and Sixties.

Barbara Tfank

Barbara Tfank

Barbara Tfank

Tribute: Designer Barbara Tfank was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor for her spring/summer 2012 collection

Her latest collection paid particular homage to the late Elizabeth Taylor, going as far as dressing the models in custom-made wigs, padded bras and vintage Bulgari jewellery.

Ms Tfank wrote in her collection notes: 'Into an age of perky,
unthreatening blonds she came a brunette whose voluptuous face was
mirrored in the unconstrained curves of her body.

'With her dark brows, violet eyes, full lips, full body and frank gaze, she could look like no one else.'