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Michelle Obama Brings Fashion to the White House

On Wednesday Oc. 8, Michelle Obama hosted the first fashion education workshop in the White House. Obama has been such a fashion icon as the First Lady, and now she aims to teach those aspiring to have careers in fashion what it’s really about:

“When it comes to the fashion industry, so often people think it’s all about catwalks and red carpets and ‘who wore it best,’ and whether some famous person wore the right belt with the right shoes. But the truth is that the clothes you see in the magazine covers are really just the finished product in what is a very long, very complicated and very difficult process.”

Obama addressed the 150 students from across the country who attended the workshop with this statement. She then went on to say, “Fashion is really about passion and creativity, just like music or dance or poetry. For so many people across the country, it is a calling; it is a career. It’s the way they feed their families.”

Designer Panel
Designer Panel

The students were treated with the opportunity of meeting some of the world’s famous designers like Zac Posen, Diane von Furstenberg, Jason Wu, and Naeem Khan who ran some of the workshops and led a panel discussion. Some of the workshops the students attended included fashion inspiration, journalism, construction, wearable technology, and entrepreneurship.

Zac Posen working with some of the students (Vogue)

Michelle Obama has had her thoughts of the fashion workshops being public since May at the ribbon-cutting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Fashion has been present in the White House before, but it’s been a while since it has been so prominent. When Hilary Rodham Clinton was the first lady, she acknowledged the philanthropy that the fashion industry has. This concept was brought up by Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, at the workshop: She stated how the fashion industry can promote social change and support important causes such as fighting AIDs, breast cancer and hunger. The other time fashion showed up in the White House was back in the 1960s when Lady Bird Johnson hosted a fashion show to celebrate American style.

Diane von Furstenberg with a student (Vogue)
Diane von Furstenberg with a student (Vogue)

As a part of the workshop, Michelle Obama wore a dress designed by Natalya Koval who attends New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She won a design competition resulting in Obama wearing her dress, and her runner up, Chelsea Chen, had her design on display. Koval’s navy blue dress had a full skirt and a fitted bodice with a racer back. It was simple, but showed off Obama’s figure. By wearing this dress, it was clear that Obama wanted to focus on the students and that this day was all about them.