Obama mania hits the catwalks of Rome

ROME Mon Feb 2, 2009 12:21pm EST

1 of 3. A model displays a creation, bearing the image of U.S. President Barack Obama, during Italian fashion house Gattinoni's Rome Fashion Week Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2009 show February 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Alessia Pierdomenico

ROME (Reuters Life!) - Mania over President Barack Obama has reached the catwalks of Rome, where a top haute couture designer showed off a kaftan emblazoned with his face and another dedicated a gown of "hope" to his wife Michelle.

"I was in Times Square when he was elected and it was like just such a beautiful emotion. I had the sensation of flying," Guillermo Mariotto, who designed the kaftan for Roman fashion house Gattinoni, told Reuters.

"He's definitely a fashion icon. He's brand new, he's a black president, and he's so handsome."

Mariotto sent an American model down the catwalk draped in the ankle-length, long-sleeved kaftan made of natural fiber. It featured a solemn-faced Obama in red and beige across its entire length and the word "Change" written across the bottom.

Neapolitan designer Fausto Sarli on Saturday dedicated the jewel of his collection -- a pinkish gown studded with crystals and lavish swirls -- to U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, saying it represented a light in the desert.

"We dedicated this as a message of hope -- that she can bring hope in the world during this period of crisis," said Sarli's spokesman Carlo Alberto Terranova. "It's a homage to the audacity of hope and youth."

(Reporting by Deepa Babington, editing by Paul Casciato)

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