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Michelle Obama Hosts Designers (and Designers-to-Be) At the White House - and Even Gives Spanx a Shout-Out


Some of fashion’s biggest names — Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, Anna Wintour, Naomi Campbell and more — flocked to the White House Wednesday to be celebrated by one of their most powerful clients, First Lady Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama fashion
Jim Bourg/Landov

A cocktail party on the state floor of the White House capped a day of workshops — spread out from the Red Room to the State Dining Room and downstairs in the China Room — where the accomplished designers gave high school and college students tutorials in subjects including “construction” and “wearable technology” as part of what Mrs. Obama called her mission to “raise up that next generation.”

“Yes, I want great clothes. Yes, I love great jewelry and great shoes,” the First Lady (or “Mrs. O” as Jason Wu, who dressed her for both Inaugural Balls, called her) told the dozens of designers assembled. “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.”

Earlier in the day, she let slip a little something about what goes into making all her high-fashion choices look perfect, saying of Spanx founder Sara Blakely, “Sara’s idea, Spanx, is a multibillion-dollar company with products selling in more than 50 countries. And we all wear them with pride.”

Co-hosted by her personal assistant and stylist, Meredith Koop, whom Mrs. Obama called “a truly gifted young woman who is like my sister,” the evening soirée saw couture’s superstars mingling over passed hors d’ oeuvres (pork belly, anyone?), champagne and platters of charcuterie and cheese.

Michelle Obama fashion
Courtesy Sandra Sobieraj Westfall

“It’s nice to see people actually eating at a fashion event,” said Posen. Across the State Dining Room buffet table, he warmly greeted Campbell — his first client, he said, as he posed for a photo with her (above right). Later, PEOPLE caught Campbell taking her own photo of Obama’s speech (center!) Around the corner in the Cross Hall, Herrera and Blakely asked a friend to snap a shot of the two of them with a bust of George Washington. Mrs. Obama teased the playful group, “You can stay for a little while. And we’ll be upstairs. We can hear you. I know some of you can get rowdy, I’ve seen you dance — so don’t break anything.”
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Posen, who had led a student workshop on fabric draping (seen in the top photo), called the whole White House experience “thrilling — one of the biggest honors of my life.”

–By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall