Michelle Obama is on the March cover of Vogue! The magazine generally relegates first ladies to inside spreads (though they did feature Hillary Clinton on the cover while Bill was in office), but Mrs. Obama's stunning designer dresses and sensibly chic J Crew ensembles have captured the public's attention -- so it's really no surprise that she's gracing the cover of the fashion bible.

The photos were taken by Annie Leibovitz at the Hay Adams hotel in Washington DC, when the Obama family was staying there in January, before the Inauguration.

Style Evolution: Michelle Obama

    She claims she's not a natural-born politician. But, when it comes to fashion, America's next new Lady, Michelle Obama, seems to have a strategist's instincts for what will play in Peoria. Her secret lies in knowing how to mix high and low (and we don't just mean her heels). She wears dresses from pricey designers like Isabel Toledo (left), Thakoon and Narciso Rodriguez, whose pieces carry four-figure tabs and are sold in stores like -- yep -- Neiman-Marcus, Barneys and Saks. But she also showed up on the campaign trail wearing designs like the $148 White House-Black Market dress that she chose for "The View" last summer and the J. Crew sweater and skirt that she wore on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," insisting in her best every woman voice, "You can get some good stuff online."

    AP

    Michelle Obama looked cool and casual at the Kids' Inaugural concert the night before her husband took the oath of office. Her daughters met their favorite musicians (The Jonas Brothers) and the soon-to-be First Lady pulled out one of her favorite labels: J Crew.

    What will the Obama administration be like? Well, Mrs. O has demonstrated a loyal streak when it comes to her choice of designer duds. Although she was criticized in many corners for the Narcisco Rodriguez dress she wore on Election Night, she wore him again at another high-profile event, the 'We Are One' concert at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009. This time, the reaction was uniformly positive.

    Before her move to Washington, Michelle O was a loyal client of a boutique called Ikram, on Chicago's Gold Coast. Store owner Ikram Goldman helped the new First Lady with her Inaugural wardrobe, including the bright purple Maria Cornejo jacket she wore on the Whistle Stop train tour from Philly to DC on January 17.

    On the night of the election Michelle Obama made fashion waves in this red and black Narciso Rodriguez dress (left). The designer proved to be a campaign trail favorite and will in all likelihood show up again and again during Obama's time in the White House.

    Joe Raedle, Getty Images

    The other big winner: Narciso Rodriguez, whose red-and-black confetti-print dress was Mrs. Obama's choice for her Election Night debut. It's hard to imagine it was anything but warm in Grant Park -- where the President-elect addressed an estimated 100,000 fans -- but Mrs. O added a short black cardigan to the tank dress, which came straight from Rodriguez's Spring '09 runway.

    Randy Brooke, WireImage.com

    Sure she has a law degree, a high-powered job and two adorable daughters. But to fashionista fans, Michelle Obama's most striking accomplishment during the presidential campaign has been channeling Jackie Kennedy -- the trademark flip, the simple '60s sheaths, the no-nonsense strand of pearls. She wore a tangerine version of the look last spring at a primary rally in North Carolina.

    AFP / Getty Images

    While Barack Obama boasts that he owns five of the same suit -- a dark two-button by Hartmarx -- Mrs. Obama is far more adventurous, especially when it comes to color. Usually, she favors bold shades -- blues, oranges, purples -- but she chose a soft, cantaloupe-colored dress earlier this fall for her husband's acceptance of the Harold Washington Award.

    AFP / Getty Images

    Their fist-bump got the most attention at the Minnesota rally on the night that Barack Obama cinched the Democratic nomination. Second-most-talked about: Michelle Obama's purple dress by her long-time designer and friend, Chicago's Maria Pinto.

    Scott Olson, Getty Images

    At the first joint appearance of the Obama-Biden families last summer, Michelle wore a purple and grey shirtwaist -- just the sort of thing Donna Reed would have chosen. And, to ensure that she didn't tower over just about everyone at the Springfield, Ill. rally, the 5-foot-11 Mrs. Obama slipped on silver ballet flats.

    AFP / Getty Images



On the cover, Michelle wears a magenta Jason Wu dress -- as everyone probably remembers, he designed her white Inauguration dress. A photo inside shows Michelle at a desk, wearing a black Narciso Rodriguez dress. Michelle received criticism when she paired a black sweater over a dress by the designer on election night, but she told Vogue, "I also have to be practical. In the end, someone will always not like what you wear--people just have different tastes. Some will think that a sweater was horrible, [but] I was cold; I needed that sweater."

The significance of the Vogue cover is multi-faceted, particularly because Michelle is a curvy, African-American woman. In the past year there have been many public debates about race and size in fashion, including the All-Black issue of Italian Vogue.

And, while we love the fact that she's on the cover, we also like what she had to say within:

"I was proud as a wife, amazed as a citizen. I felt a sense of relief, a sense of calm, that the country I lived in was the country I thought I lived in," she said of election night to writer Andre Leon Talley who chronicles -- aboard the Obama Express, front-and-center at the Inauguration Ceremony and the Obama Home States Ball -- the hopes, ambitions, and American dreams of Mrs. Obama.

"We learned in our household that there was nothing you couldn't talk about and that you found humor in even the toughest of times. I want to bring that spirit of warmth, openness, and stability to my task," she said in the interview that stretched into entertaining, motherhood, art, and of course, fashion: "I love clothes ... First and foremost, I wear what I love. That's what women have to focus on: what makes them feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion."

Our new First Lady, just by being herself, is single-handedly taking those discussions to the next level. She is a mother, professional woman, fashion icon, and role model. And she looks darned good doing it all, which is why she is now also a Vogue cover model!

Check out the full story here!

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