Michelle Obama is going out with style.
The First Lady graces the cover of December’s Vogue, and reflects upon her White House years in a candid interview published online just weeks before her husband is set to leave office.
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Mrs. Obama poses in a cream Carolina Herrera dress on the issue’s cover, and in a navy Atelier Versace sheath for its inside pages.
FLOTUS’ bold fashion choices have made headlines consistently for nearly the past decade. Despite her status as a fashion icon, Michelle told the mag she appreciates having had the opportunity to create a political persona of her own choosing.
“I could have spent eight years doing anything,” she said of her time as First Lady. “And at some level, it would have been fine. I could have focused on flowers. I could have focused on decor. I could have focused on entertainment. Because any First Lady, rightfully, gets to define her role. There’s no legislative authority; you’re not elected. And that’s a wonderful gift of freedom.”
Mrs. Obama’s legacy will likely extend far beyond her clothes. In addition to spearheading social initiatives from girls’ education to healthy lifestyles, her ease with celebrities has made her a pop culture staple over the years as well.
In addition to viral talk-show appearances alongside Ellen DeGeneres, James Corden and others, this week she also participated in a #MannequinChallenge video with LeBron James and his fellow Cleveland Cavaliers.
It seems her biggest fan also happens to be a well-known figure himself – her husband.
She and President Obama celebrated their 24th wedding anniversary last month, and the Commander-in-Chief told the mag that while Michelle “never asked to be First Lady,” he “always knew she’d be incredible at it, and put her unique stamp on the job.”
According to POTUS, Mrs. Obama’s successful connection with the public is due to her down-to-earth transparency – and even he can’t believe how lucky he is to have her in his life.
“That’s because who you see is who she is. The brilliant, funny, generous woman who, for whatever reason, agreed to marry me,” he said.
“People see themselves in her,” he added. “A dedicated mom, a good friend and someone who’s not afraid to poke a little fun at herself from time to time.”
While Mrs. Obama said she believes “it’s time” for her and the President to move on to the next chapter of their lives, she has also tried to maintain what she considers an important balance throughout their leadership.
“I think our democracy has it exactly right: two terms, eight years,” she said. “It’s enough. Because it’s important to have one foot in reality when you have access to this kind of power.”
When it comes to planning for the future, the First Lady told the mag that she’s adopting a familiar strategy and open mind as another new title awaits her.
“I will take the same approach leaving as I did coming in,” she said. “I won’t know until I’m there. I’ve never been the former First Lady of the United States of America before.”
Vogue’s December issue hits stands on Nov. 22.
— Erin Biglow