Michelle Obama's Fashion Education Workshop at the White House
High profile people skills
First Lady Michelle Obama used the White House to host a highly anticipated 'Fashion Education Workshop' event yesterday, aimed at introducing a new generation to established figures in the industry.
A group of 150 students from 12 high schools and two colleges were invited to spend the day attending five seminars, where they heard from various professionals, including Narciso Rodriguez, Zac Posen, Eva Chen of Lucky and Diane von Furstenberg, about different aspects of the business – construction, wearable technology, entrepreneurship and journalism.
The First Lady addressed the various students in the East Room, as well as an array of influential editors including Anna Wintour, creative business personalities such as Jenna Lyons and Phillip Lim (amongst others) – a seleciton of who sat on a discussion panel while their host spoke about the the true importance the industry has today.
"Now, 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 – like I'd know what that's like," she said, to laughter from the audience. "But the truth is that the clothes you see on the magazine covers are really just the finished product in what is a very long very complicated and very difficult process, as I've come to learn working with many designers."
"The industry is a huge contributor to this economy. Last year alone, Americans spent more than $350 billion on clothing and footwear"
She then made the point that fashion is also a huge part of the American economy, saying, "What most people don't realise is that there are so many different aspects to this industry. Whether it's business marketing or technology and manufacturing, even agriculture that produces the wool and the cotton that ultimately becomes our clothes, it's a big, complicated industry. 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 – so a lot of jobs, a lot of income that is generated by many of the people who are sitting in this room."
Mrs. Obama then directly addressed the students, who were able to ask the designers questions after the speech. "But for so many of you – whether you're already in the industry or aspiring to be there some day – I know that in the end, fashion is really about passion and creativity. Just like music or dance or poetry, it's what drives you. It's what gets you out of bed each morning. It's what you write about in essays in school and what you read about in the news. It occupies every ounce of your daily lives. I know this because with creative people, that's what their passion does – it makes everything else worthwhile."
The seminar and lunch was followed by a 'Celebration of Design' cocktail party, also held at the White House.