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Alexis Bittar

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What It Is Like to Design for Michelle Obama

Posted: 02/13/2013 11:28 am

Fashion week always becomes a whirlwind of frenetic energy. While some of it is banal, some of it is truly exciting. For example, this week started out with a collaboration I designed with Phillip Lim for his fall/winter 2013 runway show, which showed on Monday. Then, last night at 9:20 p.m., I was coming home from a funeral service for a distant friend who died from the flu at age 37. (Crazy right?) I was in a mood of "What's it all about, Alfie" when I started to receive a string of texts from friends that Michelle Obama was wearing my pin at the State of the Union address. I was somewhere between being excited about Michelle and feeling sad about my friend. It's funny how you can never predict events and what will go on in any given day.

I started to be swept up in the excitement of Michelle wearing my pin. It's the second time that she has worn my designs for a SOTU address. I do not have a TV hooked up to cable, so I was in the dark -- literally -- on what she was wearing. I started asking friends to text me an image so I could actually see which piece it was. The image finally came through: a hand-sculpted, grey lucite flower brooch studded with pearls and crystals, pinned to her shoulder on a Jason Wu dress.

There is something about Michelle Obama -- the person, the president's wife, the first African American first lady -- and her sheer elegance, which all culminates into a perfect storm of a force to be reckoned with. One that you want to be a part of. She is a powerful symbol for women and our country and sign of where America is going.

It's especially moving for me because I still produce my work in Brooklyn. My company is one of the remaining 5 percent of fashion still produced in the U.S., which is truly a challenge to persevere competitively in the market place. But I felt proud of all my staff, who "touch" each part of the process to make it possible to create the jewelry. Last night, they were all represented in that pin.

When I finally got snuggled into my bed with my dog Habibi and my cat Winnie and reflected on the day's rollercoaster of events, I thought to myself, at the end of the day, life goes by so quickly. But, I want to be a part of the energy... crazy or not. If last night has taught me anything, it's that life is fleeting, so you have to try and remain in the moment and enjoy every second of it.

PHOTOS:

michelle obama state of the union dress 2013

michelle obama state of the union dress 2013

michelle obama state of the union dress 2013

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