First Lady Michelle Obama wore a dress designed specially for her by FIT student Natalya Koval during a Celebration of Design at the White House. Koval’s design is the result of a competition, overseen by the White House, for a dress that Mrs. Obama wore to the Wednesday, October 8 event. Twenty-six FIT Fashion Design students submitted sketches, from which 12 semi-finalists were selected. From that group, the two finalists — Natalya Koval and Chelsea (Zhaojie) Chen — were chosen. The selections were made by the White House.
Koval, 29, is from Astoria, New York. She received an AAS in Fashion Design from FIT in May 2014 and is continuing her education at FIT in the BFA Fashion Design program. FIT was invited to join Mrs. Obama at the educational program and reception. The students, along with FIT President Dr. Joyce F. Brown, attended the event, which is part of Mrs. Obama’s Reach Higher initiative for students.
“Fashion is about so much more than just a pretty pair of pumps or the perfect hemline. For so many people across the country, it is a calling, it is a career, and it’s a way they feed their families,” said Mrs. Obama. “So that’s why we thought it was important to bring the industry to the White House, and to share it with all of you who are coming up in the next generation.”
Thom Browne, Narciso Rodriguez, Phillip Lim, Reed Krakoff, Prabal Gurung, Zac Posen, and FIT alumna Nanette Lepore were among the designers who participated in yesterday’s Celebration of Design. Executives from Ralph Lauren and Talbots were also in attendance. Anna Wintour introduced Mrs. Obama. Inspiration, construction, and entrepreneurship were among the topics that were explored during workshops with the designers.
Reach Higher is Mrs. Obama’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. This first-ever fashion education workshop event was designed to enlighten, educate, and mentor the next generation of fashion leaders.