NEW YORK — First Lady Michelle Obama rocketed Laura Smalls’ name into the national news by wearing two dresses from the little-known designer during last week’s Democratic National Convention.
Having sold her collection to only three stores for the past year, Smalls is trying to get used to the overnight interest in her life. In a phone interview Monday, Smalls said she was groggy from working until 4 a.m. preparing for her first runway show tonight at the Andaz hotel. The designer said of the 90-person guest list, “There is more press coming because people are like, ‘Who is this person?’”
A graduate of Parsons The New School for Design, Smalls spent years designing outerwear for Amerex and raising three children before she ventured out on her own in 2009. She runs her label from the family’s East 60th Street apartment, with her only other full-time employee being her husband, Willis, who worked in finance at CBS and later as a restaurant consultant.
Smalls first introduced Michelle Obama to her designs via the First Lady’s former go-to stylist, Ikram Goldman. “Ikram is not handling Mrs. Obama’s clothes right now. Someone on staff in the White House is,” said Smalls, declining to provide further details. When “Inside Edition” came calling last week, she said, “I answered some questions. But I didn’t want to go on air because I don’t want to trade on the First Lady’s name.”
Two other women whose voices carry — opera singer Kathleen Battle and Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson) — are also showing off Smalls’ skills as clients. Those less familiar with her work will check out the 28-piece line, which wholesales between $195 and $425, tonight.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
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The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
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EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
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