Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Michelle Obama’s ball gown makes museum debut

US First Lady Michelle Obama (right) touches her 2009 inaugural gown as the designer of her inaugural dress, Jason Wu, looks on during a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, yesterday. — AFP photo/Jewel Samad

First Lady Michelle Obama bowed to tradition yesterday and donated the dazzling ball gown she wore for her husband’s presidential inauguration last January to the Smithsonian museum institution.

The flowing, white, one-shouldered Jason Wu gown studded with applique embroidery, along with peep-toe white Jimmy Choo high heels, a huge ring, thin diamond bracelets and dangling earrings joined the Museum of American History’s collection of first ladies’ dresses.

“I’m also a little embarrassed by all the fuss being made over my dress. Like many of you, I’m not used to people wanting to put things I’ve worn on display,” Obama said to laughter.

“All of this is a little odd, so forgive me,” she added, accompanied by Taiwan-born Wu, 27, at a ceremony unveiling the dress.

Wu, who shot to fame after Obama wore his floor-length ivory silk chiffon gown, both glamorous and revealing with its single-shoulder design studded with white organza flowers and Swarovski crystals, put his hands over his heart as the first lady spoke.

“To say she has changed my life is really an understatement,” the young Manhattan-based designer said.

“I was inspired by Michelle’s poise, race and intelligence. I was inspired by the fact that I’ve been able to come to the US for fulfill my dream.”

Wu, who only opened his first store four years ago, studied in Paris and later worked with US designer Narciso Rodriguez, another favorite Obama couturier.

“This gown is a masterpiece,” an enthusiastic Obama said. “It is simple, it’s elegant and it comes from this brilliant young mind, someone who is living the American dream.”

The gown is part of a total of 24 dresses, including 11 gowns worn by first ladies since President Dwight Eisenhower’s wife Mamie in the 1950s for the museum’s “First Ladies at the Smithsonian” exhibition. All first ladies since 1912 have contributed to the collection.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Army nixes raid after Facebook leak?

The Israeli military called off a raid in Palestinian territory after a soldier posted details, including the time and place, on social networking website Facebook, Israel's Army Radio reported Wednesday.

The soldier - since relieved of combat duty -- described in a status update how his unit planned a "clean-up" arrest raid in a West Bank area, the radio station said. Facebook friends then reported him to military authorities.

The Israeli military spokesman's office had no immediate comment.

Israel says raids in the West Bank are aimed at detaining militants suspected of planning attacks on Israelis. Palestinian officials say the incursions undermine efforts by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to enforce law and order in the territory.

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Getting naked for art at the Sydney Opera House

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Some 5,200 Australians posed naked in front of the Sydney Opera House on Monday for a photo shoot by New York-based artist Spencer Tunick for another signature installation of nudes against urban backdrops.

On a chilly, overcast, first day of autumn, the mass nude photo shoot was titled "Mardi Gras: The Base" and meant to celebrate Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras last weekend.

As the sun rose, Tunick instructed participants to do a number of poses, from standing up, lying down, and even embracing cheek to cheek, for over an hour.

"I want all couples to embrace and kiss, all friends to kiss and all strangers to do whatever they want," Tunick said as he directed the crowd.

Some participants were surprised at how asexual, and leveling, the event was.

"I thought it could be a bit awkward, but it's funny because when you're naked and everybody else is naked, you feel like you're dressed, because everybody looks the same," said Steven Anglier, who wore a wig so he could stand out in the photo.

"It's really a weird experience because you think there could be something sexual behind, but there's not."

Tunick has produced almost 100 installations around the world, and says his work is not about exhibitionism or eroticism but instead reveals the vulnerability of life in a rough city landscape.

But that argument has not impressed authorities at home in the United States, where Tunick has been arrested seven times.

His largest installation was in Mexico on May 6, 2007, where he photographed 18,000 people In Mexico city's Zocalo Square.

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