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Designer Dish: Dressing the First Lady

Designing for an American First Lady is much like a popularity contest in high school. When the coolest girl in school says you’re cool, no one will question it. First Lady Michelle Obama has assembled her designer “it” clique, and it includes the likes of the talented Thakoon Panichgul (left), Maria Cornejo (center) and Narciso Rodriguez, who discussed Mrs. Obama’s unique style at the fourth annual Sunday with the Magazine hosted by the New York Times. ESSENCE.com was on the scene to hear how three very different creative visionaries share one common muse: Michelle Obama.


“Everything she wears is unique to her and unique to her personal style. I admire her for her bold choices in fashion and bold colors as well,” says Rodriguez, who shared that he, just like the other two designers, has never been given any official direction or color story when designing for the First Lady. Chilean-born designer Maria Cornejo, known for her sleek sophistication and detailed craftsmanship, expressed that Mrs. Obama’s varying fashion choices are rooted in democracy by giving smaller and less mainstream brands the chance to be noticed not only in America, but worldwide. “She is embracing everyone and having her wear my designs is the best endorsement a designer can get.” Mrs. Obama is not afraid of prints or vibrant colors, which explains why she has donned designs for the last three years by Thai-born and Omaha, Nebraska-raised designer Thakoon Panichgul. Panichgual notes that unlike many celebrities that borrow designer clothes Mrs. Obama actually purchases her clothing, carefully choosing her wardrobe staples as investments.

Mrs. Obama’s passion for fashion is evident in her iconic style. She is a woman who celebrates feminine fabrics, bold patterns, dynamic colors and, of course, her curves.