First Lady Michelle Obama loves her Spanx – as do many American women. But her occasion for singing the praises of the supportive undergarments that Sara Blakely turned into a multibillion-dollar industry was the first ever fashion education workshop to take place at the White House, in the East Wing, reported the NY Daily News.
Wednesday’s all-day event was attended by legendary Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, who introduced Obama, and other fashion luminaries including Jason Wu – who designed both of the first lady’s inauguration gowns -- and Diane von Furstenberg. The purpose of the event was to allow young people interested in fashion to network with industry professionals. Guests from Parsons the New School for Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology were also present. Designer Maria Cornejo was among those who tutored students in workshops during the day on topics such as clothing construction, wearable technology and fashion journalism.
Obama, who wore a dress designed by FIT student Natalya Koval, talked to young fashion students not only about fashion but also about drive and entrepreneurship, highlighting the career of Spanx inventor Blakely.
“[S]he got this idea, and she took a risk,” Obama said of Blakely. “She devoted her entire savings, $5,000, to start her own company. She spent two years planning and researching her new business ideas in the nights while she was still selling fax machines… [T]oday, 14 years later, Sara's idea, Spanx, is a multibillion-dollar company with products selling in more than 50 countries.”
The event was a continuation of Obama’s fashion alliance with Wintour; both had spoken of the importance of fashion education at the Costume Institute opening at the Met Ball in May.
"Fashion is about so much more than just a pretty pair of pumps or the perfect hemline," she said. "For so many people across the country, it is a calling, it is a career, and it's a way they feed their families."