The fashion world is abuzz: First Lady Michelle Obama will grace the cover of the March 2009 Vogue.
“I love clothes,” she tells the magazine. “First and foremost, I wear what I love. That’s what women have to focus on: what makes them happy and what makes them feel comfortable and beautiful. If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion.”
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer Vogue editor-at-large Andrew Leon Talley spoke about the magazine’s interview with First Lady Michelle Obama. The full transcript of the interview follows:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And joining us now, Andre Leon Talley. He is the editor-at-large at "Vogue Magazine." On the cover – we saw it on the Web site, Andre. A great picture of Michelle Obama, the first lady of the United States, I see a broad smile. I read the article you wrote. Tell us about this photograph, tell us about the first lady.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY, "VOGUE MAGAZINE": Great, Wolf. Great to be on you show and I’m happy to talk about our first lady. The cover, Annie Leibovitz, and Annie wanted to evoke the real Michelle Obama. It’s a cover about her warmth, which comes from within, it’s not about her being a fashion icon. We’re not trying to put her on a pedestal and make her into a fashionista. It’s just the naturalness and the grace of Michelle Obama. It’s who she is.
What you see is what you get and it all comes from her smile, her naturalness. She’s beautiful, she can wear anything, but the cover expresses the hope and the optimism that comes with the Obama administration and a new error.
BLITZER: She looks fabulous and it’s a great dress. Who picked out the dress? Did the first lady pick it out …
TALLEY: Michelle. The first lady …
BLITZER: … or did you guys?
TALLEY: The first lady picked out her dress from one of her favorite designers, Jason Wu and she picked out the clothes inside from J. Crew, one of her favorite resources. I mean, in the days of first ladies like Jackie Kennedy, they couldn’t shop online at J. Crew. One of the great advantages of Michelle is she embraces being a mother, a wife and she’s got a lot of things to juggle and she can sit down and shop and get a whole outfit online for $400.
BLITZER: Annie Leibovitz, who is the photographer, a fabulous photographer as we know, she must have taken a lot pictures but I have another picture we saw on your Web site in which you see the first lady there pen in hand taking some notes on a legal pad, it looks like. People tend to forget she is a trained attorney, she went to Harvard Law School.
TALLEY: Exactly, you have to realize that she has the best education, she grew up in Chicago, that was her home, her roots and she is a lawyer, trained, a lawyer. She is a community activist. And she is a very intelligent woman.
The thing that impresses you the most when you’re in the midst of Michelle or with the president and Michelle is her quality and her focus, of her vision, of her goals, of goals for the White House, her new ideas about entertaining, opening the White House for seminars for children. She wants to use the kitchen as the classroom for young urban kids to come and see how a kitchen works.
BLITZER: What about the outfit that she’s wearing in that picture on the couch. We see a sweater and her skirt …
TALLEY: It’s all J. Crew. It’s all – one of her favorite resources is J. Crew. She dressed her daughters in J. Crew for the inaugural. Those two girls had lovely coats and matching accessories that all came from J. Crew which is one of the favorite resources for every American woman. She gets style at a price.
BLITZER: And you got to know her, you’ve known her for a while, right?
TALLEY: Yes. I’ve known her ever since I had got to meet her at Oprah Winfrey’s house in Santa Barbara.
BLITZER: When was that?
TALLEY: 2005 when she had her big Legends Ball. And the night before the ball Oprah had an impromptu dinner party. Very impromptu at her home, in the dining room and she went to sit me down, there was no place setting. I said here, you are going to sit here. And on my right was Michelle Obama, on my left was Tina Turner and I was so impressed with Michelle, it’s not because what she was wearing, I hadn’t known her, I had never heard of Michelle Obama until I sat next to her.
And of course I found out that she was the wife of Barack Obama and she was just so incredible to talk to. She can talk about so many things. So when I got up from her table, it wasn’t what she was wearing I remembered, I remembered her as a human being.
BLITZER: Tell us one thing, Andre about the first lady that most of our viewers don’t know.
TALLEY: One of the things about the first lady is when she was on the train coming from Philadelphia to Washington, the way Abraham Lincoln had done, with her family and her husband, her two daughters spent two hours in the children’s train decorating it to give their mother a surprise birthday party because she was turning 45 that day.
And the mother took the party over and she was surprised and she led all the kids in a stomp dance singing a cappella. And seeing Michelle dance on the train with her children around her, to see her daughters having so much fun, just getting to that moment of fun was so important and the first thing she said to me after the party was, "I just said to Barack, this is nice, but who is going to clean up this mess. We can’t leave Amtrak this mess." So this was really a cue for all of us to get up and volunteer to pitch in and pick up all the paper cups and all the streamers and all the party things. And we did and I think it’s wonderful.
BLITZER: She’s only the second first lady ever to be on the cover of "Vogue Magazine." She is on the new cover. Michelle Obama, the sub headline, "The first lady the world’s been waiting for." Andre Leon Talley is the editor-at-large at "Vogue Magazine."
Andre, thanks very much for coming in.
TALLEY: Thank you, Wolf, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
plez sez: the first lady has already become a fashion icon... we're talking Jackie O territory now!
i'm real sensitive about this, so i'm just warning you, any negative comments about our First Lady or the President will be deleted!
Read the Vogue.com article about Michelle Obama's cover spread for the March magazine.
Read the September 2007 article in Style.com about Michelle Obama.
Read the CNN.com article about Michelle Obama being on the cover of Vogue.
Read the Reuters article about the first lady being on Vogue.