Michelle Obama Hosts "Celebration of Design" Fashion Event at the White House

By Nakia P. Thomas

Yesterday, in an unprecedented move, our most stylish of First Ladies, Michelle Obama, welcomed juggernauts of the fashion world and students of fashion design to the White House for a career day like no other. True to her sterling reputation, the First Lady—who demonstrates daily that a love of fashion and high-level professionalism are not mutually exclusive—delivered remarks highlighting the business impact of fashion, and emphasizing hard work as the basis of success:

"We want you to see firsthand that a solid education and the willingness to work hard is really at the core of what it's going to take to achieve your goals: education and hard work. It's that simple," the First Lady told attendees. "In order to exceed… you have to be prepared… you've got to be willing to take some risks, and you also have to be prepared to fail—a lot."

Approximately 150 lucky students from 14 schools across the Northeast networked with industry leaders and participated in workshops facilitated by New York City design institutions: Parsons, the New School for Design; the Fashion Institute of Technology; and Brooklyn-based Pratt Institute. Mrs. Obama credited the Parsons contingent with decorating the tables in the East Room for the event. Students also attended workshops focused on fashion journalism, wearable technology, inspiration, construction, and entrepreneurship. These workshops were led by industry leaders including Eva Chen, Cecilia Dean, Duro Olowu, Zac Posen, Phillip Lim, Reed Krakoff, and others.

Michelle Obama spoke about the craftsmanship it takes to design quality clothes: "The truth is that the clothes you see on the magazine covers are really just the finished product of what is a very long, very complicated and very difficult process, as I've come to learn working with many designers." 

She also spoke on the importance of the fashion industry, saying, "The industry is also a huge contributor to this economy. Last year alone, Americans spent more than $350 billion on clothing and footwear, and about 1.4 million American workers are employed annually by retailers and others in the fashion industry."

The First Lady wore a dress designed by Natalya Koval, a talented Fashion Institute of Technology student who was conferred the honor after winning a design competition. Chelsea Chen, another gifted Fashion Institute of Technology student, was also recognized by the First Lady for her designs.

Attendees received invitations in early September, near the end of New York Fashion Week. Invitees included, among others: Amaka Osakwe (Maki Oh), Tracy Reese, Azede Jean-Pierre, Naomi Campbell, Nneya Richards, and others.

Photo credit: Getty 

Nakia P. Thomas is a fashion lover who enjoys food, photography, art and travel. She is also a dreamer, lawyer, writer, and Founding Editor of StyleChile Media—an aspirational fashion, beauty and lifestyle brand. Additional information about Nakia may be found at http://stylechile.com/about/