Charlotte designer sends gown to Michelle Obama

Denise Capers didn’t like the first inauguration gown and thought she could do better

02/08/2013 12:00 AM

02/07/2013 10:45 AM

Local designer Denise Capers thought first lady Michelle Obama would wear a red gown to the recent inaugural balls. She hoped that the gown would be the red one she designed and sent to the White House.

Instead, the first lady’s gown was a repeat encore appearance for designer Jason Wu, who designed the white inaugural gown Obama wore in 2009. Public and designer reaction then was swift. Many admired the flowing one-shoulder design, while others thought differently.

“I thought she looked like she was going to a prom,” said Capers, a University City designer who owns Capriccio by Denise and has been designing formal dress wear and other fashion since 1986. “I understand that she was trying to support new young designers, but that white dress did not flatter her.

“The color was an interesting choice. But I like red better. It is a more traditional color and rich and more patriotic,” said Capers.

This year’s gown by Wu was more flattering, said Capers, but she thinks her gown better suits the first lady.

Capers decided to fashion a gown for the first lady after the first inaugural. So, about two weeks before this year’s inauguration, she sent the gown directly to Michelle Obama at the White House.

She wasn’t asked to do it and she was not really expecting that Obama would wear her gown, but Capers decided to send it.

Capers thought it interesting that she and Wu had the similar fashion ideas about what would look good on Obama.

“Red goes well with Michelle’s skin tone,” Capers said. “My dress, like Wu’s, was a halter-style, but mine has a high back and arm holes just a bit wider and no sleeves to show off her nicely built and toned arms. There’s a V in the front, cut a little higher since we know the first lady is conservative. A rhinestone broach at the waistline makes it elegant.

“She’d look fabulous wearing this dress,” said Capers, pointing out features on her sleek satin Barbecue Red gown. “I can visualize Michelle in it – I just love everything about it.”

Capers hopes that the first lady’s penchant to promote small designers might interest Obama in looking at her dress.

But she’ll understand if Obama decides she can’t wear her dress. So far, she’s had no response from the White House.

“Michelle Obama is strong, physically fit and isn’t afraid to make her own decisions,” said Capers. “She doesn’t let society dictate what she has to do or wear; she has a choice and she makes up her own mind.”

But if she could, Capers would love to receive an invitation to visit the White House.

“I would love to see the White House,” said Capers, “it’s been a dream of mine, and I’d take my family along.”

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