Mrs-O.com is a blog dedicated to chronicling the fashion and style of First Lady Michelle Obama. Founded September 2008. 


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Mrs. O's Mystery Brooches

Images used with kind permission from Moschino

Brooches are, of course, a signature of Mrs. O's style. And while we know the First Lady has an enviable collection of floral pins from Erickson Beamon, there are a number that have remained somewhat of a mystery. In recent weeks, Mrs. O has been seen wearing an oversized pearl cluster brooch, first at the Kennedy Center, and then at the Department of Transportation. Through the summer and fall of 2008, Mrs. O wore several combinations of a sequin floral brooch, notably pinning four such brooches at the neckline of her azure blue dress for the third night of the DNC in August (another of our all-time favorite, but less mentioned, Mrs. O looks).

After extensive research, we've discovered that these pins both hail from the Italian design house Moschino, designed by Rosella Jardini, creative director of Moschino since 1994. The pearl cluster pin, a combination of silk tulle and pearls, comes from the label's Spring 2009 collection (image on left), while the floral sequin pin, made of sequins, black tulle and crystal pistil, originates from the label's Fall 2008 collection (image on right). The answer is perhaps a bit unexpected, but for that reason, all the more exciting. These pins can be purchased at Moschino New York, 401 West 14th Street, New York, NY (212.243.8600) and Ikram, North Rush Street, Chicago, IL (312.587.1407). Images used with kind permission from Moschino

Reader Comments (67)

The one on the left is beautiful, but I'm sure it's very expensive.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterdlev

Mrs. T, you are an amazing sleuth. Oh, BTW, it's "pistil," unless Mrs. O is now into guns (can't ever imagine THAT happening.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs Y

Crystal Pistol is a rock band!

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterHyde Parker

I love the outfit that the pearl cluster brooch is pinned on. I would love to see Michelle in that!

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan

I agree with you Susan- its a gorgeous ensemble. Mrs. O only wears American designers though and Moschino is Italian.

Also, the sleeves are quite long so... (joking!)

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterveronica

Haha, thanks Mrs. Y! I have corrected the spelling above.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. T

How do you suppose she acquires these things? I thought, at first, that a lot of these pieces (clothing and accessories) belonged to her pre-WH. However, she (and the girls) has been wearing items from collections that haven't been released yet ... so how do you suppose she acquires them? Do designers send her things? Does she look through Vogue, say, with an assistant who makies notes and arranges for her to get them? Does she pay for this stuff? Y'know she isn't browsing at Nordstrom's so how does it work?

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 5:13 PM | Unregistered Commentermiz_glammie

Ikram and staff do the running around for her i think

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterveronica

I think that initially Mrs. O was paying for all her clothes. However, at some point she will probably start accepting gifts from designers. Even though she's frugal and repeats outfits (unheard of in the Nancy Reagan era) at some point she will need to have more outfits than is reasonable for her to buy. I think that since she's First Lady of the most powerful country in the world that she should be given some type of budget...maybe $100k/year? Some of you may disagree, but you have to remember that the Obama's don't come from the type of wealth like many other presidential families. Just some food for thought. Feedback?

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSTRONGFORU

I'm sure Mrs. O can't accept gifts from anyone, but I might be wrong. (And I don't mean from Grandma and the girls.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGloria5

The issue with gifted clothes, I understand, is that they are TAXABLE. Thus, they still carry a price tag for the Obamas. Correct me if I'm wrong. I don't know if there are any ethics laws that would bar Mrs. O from receiving these gifts. Honestly, I don't think there should be a tax payer based budget for Mrs. O. I like the fact that she stretches her clothes and her budget, like the rest of the people she represents.

As far as the brooches, the real topic here, I ADORE THEM. Mrs. O has totally turned me into a brooch fan and I've found quite a number of lovely bits. It really is such an accessible, simple way of adding flair and variety to one's wardrobe. Part of Mrs. O's sharp eye and keen sense of fashion comes precisely the fact that she is not a woman in power who refuses to wear the same thing twice. The limitation and/ or choice of not refusing to wear clothes multiple times and sticking to a restrained budget forces one to really exercise the imagination.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersilvia (sildi)

Mrs T your capacity for providing detailed information regarding Mrs O's sartorial choices, no matter how minute, is amazing.
Your diligence is very much appreciated.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRJT

Yeah, I've begin to wonder how she's paying for all these wonderful clothes. But it's good to see that she repeats them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterLittle Red

OT: Some other First Lady portraits. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/style/

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterIVA

OK, who was brave enough to call Moschino and get the price tag for those brooches?

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered Commenterhiatus

Oh, the price I'd love to know! So the first brooch is definitely pearls? Not silver beads?

She can't accept gifts from designers. Period. It's not an issue of taxes, it's an issue of well-established laws against members of the executive branch receiving gifts. No, she's not elected, but I would find it shocking if there was even a hint of "gifting," after the president has made such a big deal out of ethics.


We've seen many an official get in trouble for accepting free goods and services, the latest being Ted Stevens in Ohio. And with all the stuff going on with Blago in Illinois, the Obamas have to be cleaner than clean on this issue. She's not going to be getting any gifts.

Borrowed items may be different. She borrowed some of the jewels she wore on inauguration day and evening.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

My comment is in moderation because of a link, but this will make sense when you can see what I just posted: I mean Ted Stevens in ALASKA, of course.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

There is really no mystery here about Michelle's clothes... She is, BY LAW, not allowed to accept gifts from anyone. She pays for everything, and has said as much (when she was on Jay Leno). I also remember Jcrew explicitly saying that they were paid for all the clothes they provided for the girls, etc. I believe Mrs. O had an arrangement with Jason Wu and Isabel Toledo, and did not pay them for those clothes because they will be donated to the Smithsonian collection. The same goes for the Inaugural ball jewelry.

But anything else that she wears, she must have paid for, by law. And as for how she affords it, the Obamas ARE very wealthy. Of course, this was not the case as recently as 2004. They used to be just middle class. But President Obama's best-selling books have changed that. They earned 4 million dollars in 2007 alone. So, basically, she can well afford it.

But because she does buy everything on her own, is why we see her "recycle" things all the time, and why she so often wears affordable brands like Jcrew. She has two or three public appearances per week which is like 12 outfits per month. NEEDLESS to say, she will repeatedly "recycle" her clothes. We will see that great houndstooth bolero again (we've already seen it twice). The dress she wore to the State of the Union, she's worn twice and probably will again. She's worn that great black coat tons of times. And all her brooches are repeatedly recycled. Etc, etc.

I mean, it's not "recycling". These are her clothes. She's just making use of her wardrobe just like the rest of us.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I'm confused how you guys are wondering how Mrs O can pay for these clothes. No, the Obamas didn't come from "old money" like some of the other presidents and their wives, but they weren't exactly in the poorhouse before. Before she quit her job she was making $350K (I thought earlier it was either 200 ro 400K but ET said it was $350K the other night), plus Barack had his senator's salary and royalties from his two books which have been selling like hotcakes since he announced his candidacy (and really even before that). Now, someone said that they can't get clothing gifts when in the WH. But is it that there are no gifts at all, or no gifts above a certain price range? OK, even if that is true that she can't get any gifts, who's to say they didn't get gifts before hand? Maybe she was given these clothes as gifts before. (Maybe not). But even still, I'm sure she can afford them. They are certainly out of my price range, but probably not hers.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterhiatus

Hey, I just wanted to point out that I came across another article about Ikram Goldman in the Chicago Tribune here http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-0225-ikram-and-michelle-obamfeb25,0,3480493.story?page=1
It says she has also reached out to Rachel Roy (another up and coming designer who happens to also be the wife of Damon Dash and one of my favorite designers) to create pieces for Mrs. Obama. I don't know about anyone else, but i think it's so cool that could be wearing Rachel Roy who is relatively unknown to the mainstream. Rachel always says that she designs with the busy, working mom in mind since she is one herself.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterAri


Thank you. Common sense prevails -- I love it. FLOTUS is, after all, a real woman, a real mother, a real wife, a real professional. Even very wealthy people wear clothes more than once; it's not that unusual.

I can't even begin to imagine being under the type of scrutiny that Mrs. Obama handles on a daily basis.

And while I personally wouldn't relish the attention, I am very happy that she is reviving attention to fashion and style. It is, after all, called the fashion industry. And the business, like many others in the country right now, can use a boost.

She, like the President, is helping to revive the American economy. I'm hoping that all American fashion designers will be happy for that.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 9:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterisonprize

I also don't understand why there a question about how they can afford it. If you didn't have to use any other part of your salary for any other purpose -- you had free housing, free food, free travel, free health care, free car transportation -- how much of it would you be able to devote to clothes, if you chose to? Quite a bit, I'd say.

All I see the Obamas having to pay for right now is:

1. Upkeep of their Chicago home, whatever that is costing them
2. The girls' tuition

There's a lot of money left in the budget for clothes, considering that Barack's books made them millionaires.

But please believe me, these clothes are not gifts. If my comment ever comes out of moderation, you'll see a link there that shows members of the executive branch can't accept gifts over $20. No, Mrs. O is not exactly a member of the executive branch, but there is an extremely slim chance that Obama, after making such a big deal out of having the most ethical administration in the history of the planet, would be allowing side deals where his wife gets pretty clothes for free. No way is he that dumb, no way is she that dumb. The press/Republicans would have a field day.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Actually the Obamas also have to pay ALL their food expenses. That big White House kitchen must doom them with a pretty hefty Grocery bill each month... I remember George Bush giving Obama a warning that he would be surprised when he got that first food bill

But yes, the general point is quite accurate. Michelle is wealthy enough to afford to buy her own clothes and there is NO WAY, NO WAY, NO WAY she is getting any clothes for free. It is literally illegal...as well as unethical and politically deaf.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I did not know that about the food! How interesting.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Yes, they do foot all food expenses...except those for the preparation of state dinners.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterSildi

Christina, yes, it is surprising! There was a whole article on that piece of trivia but I can't remember where I read it. The first source that popped up when I did a search just now was People magazine which says:

"Except for Uncle Sam-funded official dinners, all meal, drink and dry cleaning bills go to the First Family, to be taken out of the president's $400,000 annual salary."

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I always wondered if maybe she got the wholesale rate instead of full retail. But I'm glad to get clarification on the whole gift giving rules. I agree that given Obama's stand on ethics that it wouldn't make sense that he would allow fashion designers to give his family free clothes.

Back to fashion. That first Moschino brooch is gorgeous and I love it.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterLittle Red

Don't they pay for dry cleaning as well?

And what does "FLOTUS" mean?

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterhiatus

Never mind. The dry cleaning question was answered.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterhiatus

Actually, I didn't ask how she was able to AFFORD them. I asked how she ACQUIRED them, meaning, given that she cannot leave the "house" without a motorcade, how does she get out and about to browse through clothes and make her selection. In other words, how is she able to shop??

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermiz_glammi

MizGlammi, yes, it would certainly be impossible for her to shop like the rest of us do.

According to what I have been able to piece together from various articles, that is where Ikram comes in. Like with the Michael Kors dress, where the article yesterday said that Ikram had approached the Kors team and asked for a few specific pieces, including the black jersey dress.

She probably scouts out various designers for pieces that Michelle would like, brings her pictures of these possibilities, gets some feedback, and then purchases the items that Mrs. O ends up choosing.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJenna

Just as Jenna described well, it's probably a far more personalized and upscale version of catalog shopping. Imagine someone creating a catalog of clothing based just on your tastes. I'm sure that's how she does it. Supplemented, of course, by regular catalog shopping (the J.Crew stuff.) And I'm sure any boutique wouldn't mind opening early or closing late if the owner knew that Mrs. O was coming by. Shopping is probably not that difficult to take care of. She can't just hit the mall but there are other ways to do it.

FLOTUS -- First Lady of the United States
POTUS -- President of the United States

I was in a consignment store not too long ago and there was a small piece of Erickson Beamon jewelry; I think it may have been a brooch, but perhaps it was earrings. Anyway, this was something small and not all that exciting, and it was still along the lines of $100-$150. I can only imagine how much the "good" stuff costs, like that turquoise flower pin she wore during her speech at the DNC. Man, I loved that brooch.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

RJT, I'm glad you appreciate. Brooches are perhaps my most favorite facet of Mrs. O's style, and for the longest time, I'd been at a loss on these two in particular. They are so distinctive, so feminine, and well, all around lovely.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. T

Besides the money that the Obama's have to spend on the Chicago home mortgage and the two girls current tuition, food bills at the White House, and dry cleaning there is also:

1) Taxes on the Chicago home
2) Insurance for the Chicago home
3) Money to be put away for two college tuitions
4) Money spent on home rentals - like the vacation in Hawaii
5) The girls music lessons
6) Clothes for the girls and Barack (not only Michelle)
7) Federal income tax and state tax due on their income
8) The bill for the Hayes-Adam hotel that they lived at in D.C. before they moved into Blair House
9) Expenses for all personal items the Obama family needs and wants - including haircuts, stylists, toiletries, books, etc.
10) Money they donate to charities ... and all the other things that I can't think of at the moment.

I am not saying that the Obama's are going to go broke paying for all that needs to be taken care of - but I think that we should keep in mind that they do have bills just like the rest of us even though they are in the position to save more than the majority of us.
And also besides the acronyms POTUS and FLOTUS, in the media, there is:
FGOTUS - First Granny of the United States
VPOTUS - Vice President of the United States
I wonder if we will see FDOTUS (First Dog Of The Unites States)

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 12:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

Hahaha! Warning - if you make a list, like I just did in my last comment, and you use the number 8 with a ) symbol - your message goes into moderation because the computer thinks you are making a smiley face! Ain't that something.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

Another thing that I wanted to add.
I have seen many people refer to President Obama's 'Speech to Congress' as the SOTU (State of the Union Address) - it was NOT an official SOTU. It was just a 'first speech to Congress'.

President Obama will not likely give his 1st SOTU Address until January 2010. And at that time we will know what Michelle wears to the Presidents FIRST SOTU.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterLeah D

Though Not a brooch fan myself I do appreciate Mrs O adding accessories to her outfit that make the clothes she wears her own.

I have to also say I really appreciate this site Mrs T..
Who would have ever thought we'd have so many fashion moments to talk about this early but you've done a great job in keeping abreast on all things Mrs O.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered Commentermicaro9

I wonder why you hunt so hard to figure the designers. Why not just call Ikram? Everything comes from there or through there. They know. Or don't they answer the phone? Alternatively, the White House press office would be the source.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 2:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. S

I guess Mrs. T can't call Ikram everytime she has a question. Besides, what makes it enjoyable for us is the effort and work she puts into maintaining this amazing site.

I thank Jenna for her detailed answer about the FLOTUS fashion and expenses.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 4:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

I hope the White House Press Office isn't keeping a detailed list of the designers that Mrs. O is wearing (though I'm sure they have been asked.) Don't they have other things to do? I feel like there's a lot on their plate already, like getting out news about the economy and the two wars we're fighting.

I'm sure the First Lady's press office would like people to focus less on her clothes and more on the various causes she is supporting.

Ikram hasn't given one interview about Mrs. Obama that I've seen. A woman with discretion -- it's rather refreshing in our confessional culture.

Besides, it's fun to track stuff down on our own, and Mrs. T is great at it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Someone mentioned above how much they liked the gray/black outfit - I love it also! Great for those of us over 40. Even though Mrs. O has motivated me to get back to the gym, I don't think I'll be doing the sleeveless thing often (especially here in the upper Midwest where I don't get chauffered around much). It's very feminine, simple, and elegant. So, if Mrs. T is getting marketing info from here - Tell all of those clothing manufacturers that we don't want everything to be sleeveless or cap-sleeved!! (Talbots, are you listening?) Oh, and more attractive, dressy flats with substantial soles and heels up to 1 in. (I am not talking platforms here) would be great.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I totally LOVE the first brooch. It can go with so many things. I think it would look awesome holding together a cluster of pearl necklaces.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. H.S.

I love the brooches, and they wouldn't be that difficult to make with Swarvoski crystal pearls and silk ribbon. I'm off to craftland.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLainie

Remember that Obama just penned two books. I am not sure what the book deal entailed (although I am certain some of our blog sleuths can find that out)
but certainly there was some money from that which was added to the coffers.
The Obamas are being watched like hawks. They could never (and I believe would never) break the law.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterBevi

Susan said "I love the outfit that the pearl cluster brooch is pinned on. I would love to see Michelle in that! " Susan

Veronica said "I agree with you Susan- its a gorgeous ensemble. Mrs. O only wears American designers though and Moschino is Italian. Also, the sleeves are quite long so… (joking!)"

Ladies here she is in the picture link below, the ever fierce and fashion-forward Mrs O many moons ago, sporting an ultra-stylish Maria Pinto design in stunning olive green without a brooche.
She adds a touch of suave fashion elegance to a plain bow belt, with a peacock inspired latch....I dont think it gets better than this:-)!


Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaisins

Raisins, funny enough, the olive green ensemble you linked to is actually Moschino as well, from their Spring 2008 RTW collection, seen here:

I would love to know more about that enamel buckle. It reappeared during the Inauguration, paired with Mrs. O's J.Crew outfit for the Kids Inaugural Concert. Any ideas?

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 8:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrs. T

Thanks Mrs T, for keeping us on the right track!
Mrs O wore the olive blouse without the matching skirt, on another occassion and a magazine featured it next to, the famous blue Maria Pinto dress she wore to the Democratic Convention, and wrongly pointed out that both were from Mrs O's "hometown Design"
See link

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaisins

I remember the night she walked out in that olive green ensemble and I thought it was amazing, especially with that contrasting belt. It's a gorgeous look. It was a very happy point in the campaign, we'd just won Oregon and they had returned to Iowa and were both radiant. The girls were also there. What a great memory. She looks terrific in this color.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermeta

I'm 56---soon to be 57. I wear sleeveless dresses. I don't have Michelle's arms--but mine are not an embarrassment--and I'm not ashamed or afraid to bare them.

I am in awe of the First Lady's arms--and also motivated to further improve my own. I do expect that as time passes, we will see moderation in her wardrobe--many dresses and jackets with sleeves as well as the sleeveless ensembles and that many of us love.

I bought a copy of the current Vogue magazine for my daughter in law today. She has a new baby and I thought she would enjoy it during some of her quite moments feeding the baby. Lovely photo of Michelle on the cover. I especially like the photo inside of her in the J. Crew cardigan and skirt. Does anyone know where the skirt came from?

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered Commentersusan

And talking of sleeves, Mrs O is on the current cover of Today's Black Woman, she looks absolutely stunning in a Teal suit...it would be great to see more pictures of this oufit.

Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 9:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRaisins

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