At the first-ever Fashion Education Workshop this week, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., perhaps more closely resembled New York City’s famed Seventh Avenue as First Lady Michelle Obama brought together fashion’s biggest names and young designers hoping to follow in their path.
More than 150 fashion design students from 14 high schools and colleges around the East Coast were hosted at the White House on October 8 to attend hands-on sessions focused on subjects like construction and wearable technology. Sitting in on some of the sessions and offering their tips for success was a star-studded panel of top designers, all favorites of Mrs. Obama, including Tracy Reese, Zac Posen, Jason Wu, Diane von Furstenberg, Thom Browne, Prabal Gurung and Narciso Rodriguez.
For the affair, Mrs. Obama wore a sleeveless navy dress designed by Natalya Koval, a student at New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and dropped some valuable pearls of wisdom on the esteemed crowd.
“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,” she said at a luncheon held for the students and visiting designers.
She continued, “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.”
The first lady also told the audience that fashion “plays an important role” in her confidence, but she also instructed that clothes don’t make the man, as they saying goes. “Yes, I want great clothes. Yes, I love great jewelry and great shoes,” she said. “But more than anything else I want to make my time here mean something, as I know you all do, too. And this means nothing if we don’t change the lives of those who follow.”
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(Photo: MAI/Greg E. Mathieson /Landov)