First Lady Michelle Obama, draped in a bold yellow Michael Kors skirtsuit and shimmery lizard-skin pumps, feted design honorees at the White House today as part of the 10th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards.

Obama was following in the footsteps of former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush in taking up the mantel of “honorary patron” for the awards program. As she expounded on the multidimensional purposes of design, Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa, winner of this year’s fashion design award, sat enraptured.

“What I love about design is the artistic and scientific complexity that becomes useful — a laptop, a bridge, an outfit — all drawn from a thousand wells of inspiration yet grounded in the basic principles of math and science,” Obama said.

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