WASHINGTON — After insisting designers sign nondisclosure agreements and keeping mum about details of the event, the White House at last revealed some of the schedule for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Fashion Education Workshop on Wednesday.
As WWD reported, designers including Diane Von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, Carol Lim, Thom Browne, Phillip Lim, Narciso Rodriguez, Naeem Khan and Georgina Chapman will take part in the event, the White House said late Tuesday. Not coincidentally, the First Lady has worn clothes by almost all the designers taking part.
A White House official said the day will include five workshops ranging in theme from wearable technology to inspiration, construction, entrepreneurship and journalism.
A panel of designers including Von Furstenberg, Gurung, Wu, Jenna Lyons of J. Crew, Tracy Reese, Lilliana Vazquez, and Edward Wilkerson will also give 150 students insight into their careers and educational paths.
Parsons The New School for Design did the decor for the East Room portion of the event and Anna Wintour, artistic director of Conde Nast and editor-in-chief of Vogue who raised millions for her husband’s election campaign in 2012, will introduce the First Lady, who plans to deliver remarks on the pursuit of a fashion education and the evolving and expanding reach of the fashion industry.
“Today there are boots that charge your cell phone, bras that detect breast cancer and compression shirts that monitor and record your heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature as a virtual coach,” the White said in billing its wearable technology workshop. “As the lines between technology, product and fashion merge, we will soon be surrounded with technology in everything we wear.”
Students will stitch a circuit with a microcontroller, power supply and LED lights using hand sewing techniques with conductive thread under the tutelage of such fashion and product designers as Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, Carolina Pabonescobar, Cody Miller, Theo Ferlauto, and Carson Stanch.
The “inspiration” workshop will feature designers such as Browne, Reed Krakoff, Humberto Leon, Carol Lim, Duro Olowu, Phillip Lim, Rodriguez and Barbara Tfank. Students will hear about their inspirations and learn how to express their designs using different media while building teamwork skills.
The “construction” workshop, led by Chapman, Khan, Alexis Bittar, Maria Cornejo, Keren Craig, Azede Jean-Pierre, and Zac Posen will teach students how to employ key introductory construction skills.
“Construction work is in high demand in the fashion industry,” the White House said. “There is a short supply of workers in this field, including skilled technical designers, pattern makers and production managers.”
The journalism workshop will focus on the importance of writing and communication skills and give students the opportunity to produce short publications covering the day’s workshops with the help of such professionals as Ursula Carranza, Eva Chen, Cecilia Dean and Edward Enninful, and Patricia Reynoso.
In the entrepreneurship workshop, students will hear testimonials from fashion entrepreneurs about how they generated initial concepts, launched and maintained fledgling companies and eventually built their companies into large, successful businesses. Leaders in this workshop will include Sara Blakely, Charles Harbison, June Haynes, Susan Gregg Koger and Mary Alice Stephenson — one of the few to break their silence in advance of the event when she tweeted about it.
The invited students were chosen based on their interest in pursuing careers in fashion and come from 14 schools, including: The Philadelphia High School for Creative and Peforming Arts; Kensington High School for Creative & Performing Arts in Philadelphia,; High School of the Fashion Industries in New York; Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, Md.; Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington; Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington; The College of Textiles at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.; The School of Art and Design History and Theory at Parson; Marymount University; Baltimore Design School; James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md.; Richard Wright Charter School in Washington; and The School Without Walls Senior High School in Washington.