Michelle Obama’s stylist shares how she gained her coveted look

HK: Okay, you work with aspiring designers and with very established designers. How do you make this decision about who to go with because I can only imagine that everyone in the world would want to wear them. You are also holding someone’s fortune in your hands like you could do business with your selections, which is a great deal of power and responsibility and would envision pressure. How do you thread this needle?

MK: I take it very seriously. I take it very seriously. I don’t have any hard and fast rules. As I said, I rely a lot on instinct, I try to keep up with what’s going on. And that’s not just what’s going on in New York Fashion Week, it has to be international. I had to prepare to be more on social media so I could look for new and emerging designers who aren’t necessarily represented at these big events that we see. I try really just to keep up with it and keep in mind that there are definitely certain people with nice stories and people that I want to lift up. And knowing that many people in fashion come from many sources – nepotism, favoritism – is very expensive to work in fashion. People say, “I want to be a designer.” Well, just to get your foot in the door, you have to have money to get the stuff, the marketing. God forbid you want to put on a fashion show. All of this is very expensive. So I think this is excluding some very worthy people. It is really unfortunate. So if I can be just a little, tiny, tiny, little part of raising someone who might not be featured on Vogue.com etc, I’d love to do that. C.Hang gatekeeping up a bit. Hopefully something that makes an impact.

HK: In terms of the implications, can we speak of the glory with which Ms. Obama sought after the last inauguration? How did you know this Sergio Hudson is the right look? Also, I am interested in your thoughts on color because you went on social media and gave us such an amazing breakdown of the thinking and process and all that, but you were very clear that it wasn’t purple, it was grape plum . So why this color?

MK: I just made this up, but yeah, that’s the color we go with. Sergio, as I said, I had already worked with him twice on the book tour. Aesthetics, construction, vision, clothing for women with different body types; everything is just there. And it was clear to me when I received the first item of clothing, I thought, oh, okay, yes, bam, we are good. Working with him was just a real pleasure. With the impending initiation, he was someone I thought of, who I wanted to work with again. And one of the things that people don’t quite understand is that the initiation is in January. It’s cold in Washington DC. And when I say it’s cold, you don’t know if it’s going to be 10 degrees, 20 degrees, 40 degrees. Will it be sunny Will it be cloudy Will it rain? Will it snow And will it be all of these things? There is a lot to solve, sitting outside for two hours, not moving, just sitting. I don’t know when I last did this so I’m very sensitive to the fact that we need a really solid coat of paint, we need layers, we need options. And you know, in search of a very nice coat, when I was looking at Sergio’s collection, I saw this particular coat that we ended up with in the end. I looked just beautiful, beautifully built. I love the look on the catwalk with the skirt, but I wanted to make pants so I worked with it. We’re on the same wavelength so it wasn’t a difficult process. He sent sketches through. We went for this, we made it to measure, we thought through all the details like there was this whole concept of sewing someone into a piece of clothing. You need to check the zippers, you need to make sure that the zipper is the right quality – all these details ensure that the day is very calm.

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