Here’s Why You Always See Michelle Obama Wearing Emerging Designers

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Michelle Obama wearing Self-Portrait, a label started by Malaysian-born designer Han Chong in 2013.
As long as she's resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Michelle Obama has championed emerging designers. She wore a gown by then-26-year-old (and fresh off being a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist) designer Jason Wu to the 2009 inaugural ball — and then again in 2013. She's long been a fan of Jenna Lyons' J.Crew. This summer alone she repped two big names of the New York fashion scene: the established Christian Siriano and the wunderkind Brandon Maxwell. The support FLOTUS gives to up-and-coming and homegrown talent is something we've long admired about her. Now, her stylist has shared exactly why it's important to Obama to champion brands that are on the rise. Meredith Koop has been working with FLOTUS since 2009, after meeting at a Chicago boutique where the stylist used to work. In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar, Koop explained that her objective has always been to distance Obama from what was long considered (and expected to be) a "first ladyish" wardrobe. Part of this involved expanding the First Lady's roster of designers: Koop focused on identifying and bringing in "designers from diverse backgrounds with varying levels of success and exposure" — hence how Wu and Joseph Altuzarra landed on Obama's radar, alongside old-guard American brands like Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera. Obama understands the power of the optics of someone in her position. Oftentimes, her fashion choices are reflective of the policies and initiatives she's introduced while at the White House. One of the major ones has been education, which is mirrored in her decision to champion labels that are on the rise. "When [Obama] wears an up-and-coming designer, it creates this feeling that anything is possible," Koop told Harper's Bazaar, adding that pursuing opportunities and always persevering in the face of career challenges are things FLOTUS talks about frequently with young people. "I wanted to translate that very message into her clothing." Koop's work, then, is very much entwined with the strategy put forth by FLOTUS' office — something Obama relayed to Harper's Bazaar is a direct result of the stylist's "ability to think not only about fashion but also the importance of the moment and the message." We'd say that message is being heard, loud and clear. Check out the rest of Koop's profile here.

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