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“Dear Michelle”: fashion designers’ thank you letters to the First Lady

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Today, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. It’s guaranteed to be an emotional day for many – but for the fashion community, there’s a very specific reason to mourn the loss of the Obamas in the White House.

Since she first stepped out on the campaign trail for her husband back in 2007, Michelle Obama has proved a committed champion of American and international fashion. She’s helped cement the careers of designers such as Prabal Gurung, Naeem Khan and Jason Wu, and brought a sense of vibrant modernity to traditional First Lady fashion.

Naturally, then, plenty of designers are feeling a sense of loss as the Obamas pack their bags – not least because so many have sworn they’ll never dress the incoming First Lady, Melania Trump.

To mark the end of the Obama era, several designers have shared their goodbye messages to Michelle with Women’s Wear Daily. Here are four of our favourites.


Jason Wu

obama

Obama in Jason Wu, from L-R: during a state visit from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau; at Barack Obama's first Inauguration Ball in 2009; and at his second, in 2013.

Obama has been a defining figure in Wu’s career. She wore one of the Taiwanese-Canadian designer’s gowns to her husband’s first Inauguration Ball in 2009, when Wu was just 26 years old; since then, she’s rocked his designs countless times, including at Obama’s second inauguration and during a state visit from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and his wife.

Dear Michelle, writes Wu,

Thank you for your amazing support for not only me, but for every creative who dreams in this country.

You inspire me and I am so proud to play a small part in your most extraordinary legacy. I can proudly say that I’ve reached my American Dream.


Georgina Chapman & Keren Craig

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Obama wearing a Marchesa gown alongside Samantha Cameron during the Camerons' visit to Washington in 2012.

In their letter to Obama, the Marchesa designers write:

Over the past eight years, you have conveyed such strength, confidence and poise as First Lady. The selfless and exemplary work that you have done and the influence you are leaving behind will certainly not be forgotten! As designers, it has been such an honor for you to wear Marchesa. From State Dinners to Galas, you have exuded the highest level of elegance and grace, which we deeply admire.

Thank you for everything you have done, you are leaving behind a lasting legacy and we’re excited to see what comes next for you!


Prabal Gurung

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Michelle Obama in Prabal Gurung at the White House Correspondents' Association Gala Dinner in 2010 and at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, 2013.

American designer Gurung has been another favourite of Obama’s: she’s worn his clothes everywhere from gala dinners to a tennis centre in New York.

He writes:

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Thank you for your grace, poise, intellect & integrity. You leave us inspired. Thank you for letting us be part of your history. See you in 4 years as our first female president.


Jenna Lyons

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Michelle Obama wearing J. Crew with then-PM Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah, during the Obamas' visit to the UK in 2009.

Finally, Jenna Lyons, the creative director and president of U.S. brand J. Crew, writes something approaching a poem in honour of the outgoing First Lady.

Dear Mrs. Obama,

Thank you for your GRACE
Thank you for your ELEGANCE
Thank you for your WARMTH
Thank you for your BRIGHT SMILE
Thank you for your INCLUSIVENESS
Thank you for your SUPPORT
Thank you for your INSPIRATION
Thank you for your HUMOR
Thank you for your ACCEPTANCE
Thank you for your STRENGTH
Thank you for your FEARLESSNESS
Thank you for your STYLE
Thank you for your ENORMOUS HEART
Thank you for your LEADERSHIP
Thank you for your DANCE MOVES
Thank you for EVERYTHING

With love and admiration,
All of us at J. Crew.

Read more fashion designers’ letters to Michelle Obama at Women’s Wear Daily.

 

Images: Rex Features

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