News

The First Lady on confidence, achievement and the all-important issue plaguing the female face of a nation: plastic surgery

Michelle to the rescue as Democrats flounder

For nearly two years she has nurtured the executive mansion's vegetable patch, steered a campaign for healthier eating and played the good host on Pennsylvania Avenue. But yesterday America's first lady, Michelle Obama, was plunging back into the muckier business of retail politics.

Michelle beats Hillary in 'most powerful woman' list

Michelle Obama has been named as the world's most powerful woman, ahead of the likes of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Oprah Winfrey. The Queen, however, did not even make the top 10.

Julie Burchill: Forget about romance and you might just get yourself a decent marriage

Romance is surely the greatest capitalist cash-cow ever invented, the gift that truly does keep on giving

DVD: Good Hair, For retail & rental (Icon)

What does it say about black pride when so many African-American women, up to and including Michelle Obama, have their hair straightened with scalp-melting chemical "relaxers", and many more of them wear "weaves" of long, straight, primarily Asian off-cuts?

Carla Bruni books reveal there are two sides to every story

A much-awaited "unauthorised" biography of the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, published yesterday, paints a scathing picture of a vain and selfish woman who neglects her official and charitable work.

President goes for a swim in the Gulf – or does he?

President Barack Obama wanted to convince America that the Gulf of Mexico remains open for business. But perhaps he didn't want the world to catch another glimpse of his hairless chest.

Sophie Morris: I'm with Michelle

When did holidays metamorphose from straightforward stretches of R&R into highly politicised statements? I ask this because Michelle Obama's jaunt to Spain with her youngest daughter, Sasha, and a few friends is being attacked by anyone with an audience, as if it had the significance of the Magna Carta.

Let them eat tapas? Mrs Obama faces holiday fury

First lady returns from trip to Spain in midst of economic strife to find Republicans painting her as a modern Marie Antoinette

A dream that led from dolls to the First Lady

Breaking into an industry as cutthroat and fickle as the competitive world of fashion was never going to be easy but the rise to prominence of a young fashion design graduate from West Africa via East London shows that, with talent, a stroke of luck and a contact as highly placed as Nelson Mandela or Michelle Obama, anything is possible.

Carola Long: Why the Obama seal of approval really counts

For an up-and-coming designer, publicity doesn't come much better than having Michelle Obama wear your clothes. "First wife" or celebrity endorsement can be a mixed blessing but Mrs Obama's popularity and fashion credentials make her a dream ambassador for any brand, especially a new one.

Kate Simon: You'll have to be quick to book for Christmas

There may be 146 shopping days left till Christmas but it's never too early to get those presents sorted if you follow the logic of Selfridges, which opens a special festive concession in its London store tomorrow.

As You Like It / The Tempest, Old Vic, London <br/>Welcome to Thebes, NT Olivier, London <br/>Sucker Punch, Royal Court Downstairs, London

In Sam Mendes' triumphant double dose of the Bard, the comedy is packed with subtle revelations about human nature

Terence Blacker: Unmarried couples are people too

The sickly scent of marital smugness is in the air. Helen Mirren has said the secret of her marriage is loyalty rather than romance. BBC Women's Hour has been solemnly discussing Michelle Obama's idea of "date nights" as a matrimonial freshener. A touching but inconsequential interview with an old couple who had been together for 70 years was run on the Today programme, followed by a discussion with Catherine Blyth, author of The Art of Marriage, who explained how healthily married couples would prioritise "we" before "I".

Sarah Sands: Toxic Bush's better half is his best advert

Laura Bush's old-world style will win us over
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?