LOS ANGELES Michelle Obama graces the cover of next month's Vogue magazine, marking the second time a U.S. first lady has appeared on the front of one of the world's leading fashion magazines.
Obama, 45, who has been hailed by both U.S. retailers and the media as a new fashion icon, donned a magenta sheath dress for the cover photo. The dress was designed by Jason Wu, who also created her white inaugural ball gown.
Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz took the cover photo and several fashion shots featured inside the March edition of Vogue.
With the exception of Bess Truman, every U.S. first lady since Lou Hoover in the 1930s has been featured in Vogue, but Obama is only the second presidential wife to appear on the cover, Vogue said. Hillary Clinton did so in 1998.
Obama has won praise from fashionistas for mixing designer pieces with off-the-rack American brands like J. Crew and Gap.
Vogue's editor-at-large, Andre Leon Talley said Obama selected the outfits worn for the photo shoot herself, from her own wardrobe, pairing designer wear with affordable clothes.
"She doesn't need any help. She loves fashion and knows what works for her. She's never had a conversation with me about, 'What do you think?' or 'How did this look?' And I'm glad for that."
Obama told Vogue she loved clothes, but said comfort and fun was more important than following fashion.
"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," she said.
While Obama discussed her views on fashion, she made clear family was her first priority, particularly caring for daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
"I'm going to try to take them to school every morning, as much as I can," Obama told the magazine. "But there's also a measure of independence. And obviously there will be times I won't be able to drop them off at all. I like to be a presence in my kids' school. I want to know the teachers; I want to know the other parents," she said.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)