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HBO’s "Veep" Looked to White House for Style Inspiration

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When it came to dressing the first lady of HBO’s Veep, only one woman in Washington proved stylish enough to serve as inspiration: Michelle Obama.

“Michelle Obama, she doesn’t look like a suited woman,” Ernesto Martinez, Veep’s lead costume designer, told ABC News. “She feels pretty. She likes dresses and heels and she’s not afraid to wear them. We went for that.”

Even Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, formerly the paragon of White House style, didn’t enter into the picture. “Julia really, really liked Michelle,” Martinez said of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Selina Meyers. “She is a great fan of the Obamas. I felt we should do Selina’s version of what Michelle would wear.”

While Selina’s political affiliation isn’t revealed in the new HBO show — though her predilection for cursing, hissing, and jamming her foot firmly in her mouth is known around the Beltway — her well fitted skirts and penchant for crimson call to mind 2008's would-be veep, Sarah Palin. Although Martinez called Palin’s style metamorphosis during that campaign “truly remarkable,” he said Louis-Dreyfus “didn’t want to look anything like that.”

“We used a lot of designer pieces,” he said, citing Oscar de la Renta, Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada. Selina’s signature accessory: A strand of Mikimoto pearls. Jeans and fleeces need not apply.

“There are a lot of points in the series where she’s accused of being a diva and being disconnected from the people,” Martinez said. And unlike actual elected officials, no one will take pains to show Selina’s thrifty side.

“She really is disconnected,” Martinez laughed. “She likes clothes and she likes parties.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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