All eyes turn to the First Lady
As US President Barack Obama, sworn into office on Sunday (US time), prepares to celebrate in truly presidential style at Monday night's inauguration ball, it is the First Lady who has her work cut out for her.
Michelle Obama has over the last four years swept from campaign wife to fashion maven with effortless, energetic aplomb and is set to be the belle of the ball - but what will she wear, and whose designs will she throw into the limelight?
Mrs Obama sported a new fringe as her husband took the oath, a hairstyle change that does as much to change the 49-year-old's look as an entire wardrobe makeover might. And reactions matched, even nudging her husband's duties into the shadows over the weekend.
Michelle Obama sported a youthful new hairdo - but sedate dress - at yesterday's swearing-in ceremony.
As President Obama said at the National Building Museum: "I love Michelle Obama. And to address the more significant event of this weekend, I love her bangs."
Paired with a sedate navy Reed Krakoff shift, the youthful, on-trend hairdo did the talking - and her refreshed, upbeat look may be a hint of what's to come for the main event.
This year, forecasters predict a daring gown design for the inauguration ball - possibly sparkles, patterns or cut-outs - reflecting the comfort and risk-taking that is associated with a second term in office.
Michelle Obama's choice of a white Jason Wu gown at 2009's inauguration ball sent the designer's career into overdrive. Photo: Getty
Kate Betts, former editor of Harper’s Bazaar, told New York Magazine to expect a gown that speaks volumes of Michelle's style.
"If you look back at many First Ladies’ second inaugural gowns they make more of a statement about the individual rather than the position and the moment," she said.
A fan of bright colour, cinched waists, sassy, metallic flats and bejewelled detailing, Michelle's look, on an ordinary day, is far from staid. While the president's public inauguration address will grip the world, it is Michelle's inauguration dress that will add glamour and dazzle to the proceedings.
According to WWD, the gown's designer will come from a gaggle of fashion names, both well-known and less so, including Barbara Tfank, Derek Lam, Tracy Reese and Prabal Gurung.
Naeem Khan is tipped as a favourite - Michelle has twice worn the American designer's creations in recent years, most famously the strapless, beaded gown she shone in at a state dinner last November. Jimmy Choo shoes, a stalwart in her wardrobe, are a safe bet for footwear.
As much as tonight's stage may be political, it is, make no bones about it, a catwalk, too: not only will her style be judged, picked apart and mulled over but Michelle will wear - and publicise - the creations of a lucky designer whose fortunes are likely to be cemented by the moment.
Look no further than Jason Wu, whose fashion star went intergalactic when Michelle chose to wear his optimistic, white, embellished, one-shoulder gown at 2009's inauguration ball.
That single, perfectly-pitched creation catapulted Wu from a struggling young designer to a household name overnight.