United States-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner, August 5, 2014

United States-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner, August 5, 2014

This neon yellow, shoulder-baring dress by Prabal Gurung, AAS Fashion Design '01, showcases First Lady Obama's modern sensibilities. During the United States-Africa Leaders Summit Dinner in 2014, she Obama and President Obama greeted José Mário Vaz, President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, and Ms. Rosa Teixeira Goudiaby Vaz, in the Blue Room.

White House Correspondents Association Dinner, May 1, 2010

White House Correspondents Association Dinner, May 1, 2010

Prabal Gurung, AAS Fashion Design '01, designed some of The First Lady's most memorable looks during her time in the White House. She stunned in a red dress while waiting at the Washington Hilton with her husband, President Barack Obama, before the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in 2010.

Easter Service at St. John's Church, March 31, 2013

Easter Service at St. John's Church, March 31, 2013

Mrs. Obama has worn this black and white floral Prabal Gurung, AAS Fashion '01, dress on many occasions, such as Easter services with her family in 2013.

Live! with Kelly and Michael, October 17, 2012

Live! with Kelly and Michael, October 17, 2012

Prabal Gurung, AAS Fashion' 01, is committed to producing his collection in New York City, with over 80 percent of his line created in the Garment District. For a visit to "Live! with Kelly and Michael" in New York, The First Lady paid tribute to the Big Apple with a vibrant floral dress designed by Gurung.

Holiday Reception, December 10, 2010

Holiday Reception, December 10, 2010

Marc Jacobs, BFA Fashion Design '84, is a fashion design icon who has (fittingly) dressed The First Lady on multiple occasions. For a holiday reception, Mrs. Obama sparkled in one of his dresses.

Official Visit to Ireland, May 23, 2011

Official Visit to Ireland, May 23, 2011

The First Lady wore Marc Jacobs, BFA Fashion Design '84, as she boarded a plane in Ireland after President Barack Obama visited the birthplace of his great-great-great-grandfather in Moneygall.

Dedication Ceremony at the National Naval Medical Center, December 2, 2010

Dedication Ceremony at the National Naval Medical Center, December 2, 2010

Donna Karan, BFA Fashion Design '87, has been dressing American women for more than 30 years. The First Lady wore this deconstructed olive coat to dedicate the opening of three new Fisher Houses at the National Naval Medical Center.

Oath of Office, January 20, 2013

Oath of Office, January 20, 2013

Reed Krakoff, AAS Fashion Design '89, has been influencing American fashion for years, first at Ralph Lauren, then at Tommy Hilfiger, and lastly, as the creative director of Coach. With his own line of minimal, elegant designs, he dressed everyone from Hollywood stars to The First Lady. Mrs. Obama wore a majestic blue dress while her husband was sworn in as President.

Official Portrait, 2013

Official Portrait, 2013

The First Lady chose this regal dress by Reed Krakoff, AAS Fashion '89, for her official portrait in the Green Room in 2013.

Teen Design Fair, September 13, 2011

Teen Design Fair, September 13, 2011

Derek Lam, BFA Fashion Design '90, created this youthful, patterned dress worn by The First Lady as she spoke with high school students who attended the Teen Design Fair in the Red Room of the White House prior to the Cooper-Hewitt Design Awards luncheon.

Kids' Inaugural: We Are The Future Concert, January 19, 2009

Kids' Inaugural: We Are The Future Concert, January 19, 2009

Jenna Lyons, BFA Fashion Design '90, is the President and Creative Director of J.Crew, one of The First Lady's go-to. Mrs. Obama wore a J. Crew cardigan from the brand in one of her first public appearances after the election of her husband.

Downing Street Visit with Sarah Brown, April 1, 2009

Downing Street Visit with Sarah Brown, April 1, 2009

The First Lady typically pairs a J.Crew cardigan with a dress or pants from another designer, but during visit to Downing Street, she wore a full look from the brand.

Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2009

The First Lady stood out in a bright blue coat by J.Crew during a Veterans Day observance ceremony in 2009, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

Democratic National Convention, September 4, 2012

Democratic National Convention, September 4, 2012

Parsons Alumni Tracy Reese, BFA Fashion Design '84, had a career defining moment when The First Lady wore one of her pieces in the opening night of the Democratic National Convention in 2012. The dress was bold and modern, emphasizing the best of Mrs. Obama's sartorial choices.

Evening Parade at Marine Barracks, June 27, 2014

Evening Parade at Marine Barracks, June 27, 2014

The First Lady chose this Tracy Reese (BFA Fashion Design '84) dress for a summer event, complete with a ruffled hem and bright blue pattern.

Barbecue at 10 Downing Street, May 25, 2011

Barbecue at 10 Downing Street, May 25, 2011

The First Lady served meals to military families in this bold, black and white Tracy Reese (BFA Fashion Design '84) dress, next to her husband, President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Samantha Cameron.

State Arrival Ceremony, November 24, 2009

State Arrival Ceremony, November 24, 2009

Isaac Mizrahi, BFA Fashion Design '82, designed The First Lady's orange coat she wore at the State Arrival ceremony in the East Room. Mrs. Obama is pictured with Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, the wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Speech, May 18, 2009

Metropolitan Museum of Art Speech, May 18, 2009

Isaac Mizrahi, BFA Fashion Design '82, is known for everything from his luxury fashion line, to his costumes for Broadway shows, to his line sold on QVC. Mrs. Obama wore a bright purple dress before giving a speech at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

State of the Union, January 27, 2010

State of the Union, January 27, 2010

Mrs. Obama received a kiss from her husband after he delivered his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. She wore a burgundy sweater and long, flowing skirt designed by Isaac Mizrahi, BFA Fashion Design '82

Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Ball, January 20, 2009

The First Lady wore this ivory gown designed by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, for her first inaugural ball, winning the hearts of the fashion industry. Mrs. Obama relied on Wu to dress her for some of the biggest occasions throughout her husband's presidency.

Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013

Inaugural Ball, January 21, 2013

For her second Inaugural Ball, The First Lady chose another piece by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student. This time, she sparkled in a red dress that showed off her shoulders, and trailed gracefully behind her as she danced with her husband, President Barack Obama.

Diplomatic Corps Reception, October 5, 2010

Diplomatic Corps Reception, October 5, 2010

The First Lady made an elegant statement with this satin yellow dress by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, during Diplomatic Corps Reception at the White House.

Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, July 8, 2009

Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, July 8, 2009

The First Lady wore a summery yellow cocktail dress by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, after meeting with then Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and his wife, Clio Napolitano, in Rome, Italy, before departing for the G-8 summit in L'Aquila.

Canadian State Dinner, March 10, 2016

Canadian State Dinner, March 10, 2016

The First Lady wore a custom dress by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, for a State Dinner with her husband, President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau.

Meeting with Margarita Zavala de Calderon, First Lady of Mexico, February 25, 2010

Meeting with Margarita Zavala de Calderon, First Lady of Mexico, February 25, 2010

Mrs. Obama wore a blue dress with black polka dots by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, when she met with Mexican First Lady Margarita Zavala de Calderon.

Evening Parade at Marine Barracks, July 24, 2009

Evening Parade at Marine Barracks, July 24, 2009

The First Lady wore this colorful turquoise dress by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, during an evening parade with her husband, President Barack Obama, Annette Conway, and Commandant of the Marine Corps General James T. Conway.

San Salvador, March 22, 2011

San Salvador, March 22, 2011

The First Lady kept cool while visiting San Salvador in this dress by Jason Wu, a former Parsons student, with graphic black patterns set against a serene blue base.

Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo, May 5, 2010

Thakoon Panichgul, a former Parsons student, has created some of The First Lady's most memorable looks — and the dress she wore at a 2010 Cinco de Mayo celebration was no exception. Casual yet bold, this dress highlights Mrs. Obama's playful sartorial choices.

Democratic National Committee Event, October 27, 2011

Democratic National Committee Event, October 27, 2011

The First Lady chose this brightly patterned dress by former Parsons student Thakoon Panichgul while in Florida for an event, once again showcasing her love for patterned dresses.

Pittsburgh Summit, September 25, 2009

Pittsburgh Summit, September 25, 2009

The First Lady wore this simple Thakoon Panichgul dress while greeting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his wife, Kim Yoon-ok in Pittsburgh, along with her husband, President Barack Obama.

Visit to Baden-Baden, Germany, April 3, 2009

Visit to Baden-Baden, Germany, April 3, 2009

The First Lady was elegant in this vibrant purple dress by Thakoon Panichgul, a former Parsons student, while on an official visit in Germany.

Governor's Ball, February 21, 2010

Governor's Ball, February 21, 2010

The First Lady wore a youthful design by Thakoon Panichgul, a former Parsons student, during the Governor's Ball in 2010.

Inauguration, January 20, 2009

Inauguration, January 20, 2009

Isabel Toldeo, a former Parsons student, designed this unique coat and dress combination that worn by the First Lady during President Barack Obama's inaugural parade.

Lincoln Memorial, January 18, 2009

Lincoln Memorial, January 18, 2009

Narciso Rodriguez, BFA Fashion Design '82, created this tan and black matching outfit for The First Lady during the inaugural ceremonies in 2009. Mrs. Obama wore Rodriguez on many occasions.

Westminster Abbey, May 24, 2011

Westminster Abbey, May 24, 2011

The First Lady wore this rich blue coat by Narciso Rodriguez to accompany her husband, President Barack Obama while he laid a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.

Meeting with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, June 21, 2011

Meeting with Nelson Mandela in South Africa, June 21, 2011

While meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela, The First Lady wore this tailored orange suit by Narciso Rodriguez, BFA Fashion Design '82, which reflected the optimistic mood of the event.

Democratic National Convention, September 6, 2012

Democratic National Convention, September 6, 2012

Laura Smalls, Fashion Design '76, designed this dress worn by The First Lady to the final day of the DNC in 2012. Mrs. Obama received acclaim from the media for the off-the-shoulder purple dress with subtle patterning.

Holiday Celebration, December 11, 2011

Holiday Celebration, December 11, 2011

Carly Cushnie, BFA Fashion Design '07 and Michelle Ochs, BFA Fashion Design '09, created Cushnie and Ochs in 2008. The brand is known for their minimal, sophisticated designs, which are clear in this forest green dress The First Lady wore during a holiday celebration with her family.

State Visit to London, May 26, 2011

State Visit to London, May 26, 2011

Peter Som, BFA Fashion Design '97, is known for his elegant, bold designs. Here, The First Lady wears a matching coat and dress that showcase Som's ability to create visual interest with textured colors and fits.

July Fourth Celebration, July 4, 2010

July Fourth Celebration, July 4, 2010

Erin Beatty, AAS Design '07, co-created Suno as a luxury brand with a conscience. The First Lady has worn Suno on multiple occasions, including during a Fourth of July celebration in 2010.

Parsons Alumni Help Make Michelle Obama a Fashion Icon

Not since Jacqueline Kennedy has there been a First Lady who has shown as much of an interest in politics as she has in the arts, fashion, and culture.

In the decade since her husband, Barack Obama, announced that he would run for president, Michelle Obama has evolved into a style icon. She mixed classic and elegant outfits with casual, youthful pieces that spoke to a wide range of Americans.

Deftly navigating the fickle waters of the fashion industry over the last decade, Mrs. Obama turned time and time again to accomplished alumni from The New School’s Parsons School of Design, wearing everyone from Tom Ford and Donna Karan to Laura Smalls and Jason Wu.

For Mrs. Obama, fashion wasn’t just about turning heads. During her eight years as FLOTUS, she used her style choices to bridge borders and honor international relationships, as when she wore a dress by Korean-American designer Doo-Ri Chung, BFA Fashion Design ’95, to a state dinner with the president of South Korea. When she attended a dinner at Buckingham Palace, Mrs. Obama wore a white dress designed by Tom Ford, Environmental Design ’86, whose label was based in London at the time.

While many of her fashion choices for state dinners and international visits were beautiful yet conservative, Mrs. Obama knew how to let loose. She loved showing off her toned arms in casual dresses, as she did when she wore pieces by Chris Benz, BFA Fashion Design ’04, and embracing bold prints. She was equally chic in tailored Narciso Rodriguez (BFA Fashion Design, 82) dresses as she was in loose, casual pieces from J.Crew.

Over the last decade, Mrs. Obama has looked to Parsons alumni —  from designers at the helm of global businesses, to smaller, independent designers who were just starting their careers — to realize her unique style. Parsons alumni were more than happy to oblige — and, in doing so, help make history.

“My joy really comes from dressing her because it’s historic,” Laura Smalls, BFA Fashion ’76, told Fashionista. “I’m really a Barack fan, an Obama family fan, so I can’t say enough!”