Dressing the First Lady

Doo-Ri Chung, a Korean American fashion designer based in New York, made headlines after First Lady Michelle Obama wore a dress she designed at the official dinner with South Korea.

The Korean-American fashion designer Doo-Ri Chung made headlines when First Lady Michelle Obama wore her dress at the official dinner with South Korea’s president and his wife.

The First Lady greeted her Korean guests of honor, President Lee Myung-bak and his wife Kim Yoon-ok, at the Oct.13 state dinner in a flowing one-strap purple gown, which was made from Chung’s trademark jersey fabric and draping.

Chung didn’t know her dress had been chosen until she received calls from the media for an interview. She was contacted by the White House for the gown after she showed it in her spring collection. It was her dream project, but she didn’t tell her parents about the secret project for the First Lady, because she didn’t want to get their hopes up.

Some modifications needed to be made to the original dress. The original was very sexy with a thigh-high slit, but the First Lady’s office requested a more modest slit.

The First Lady accessorized the dress with a high-waisted chiffon belt studded with green and blue crystals that matched well with her skin tone. She also put on gold earrings and a cuff bracelet and wore violet shoes that matched the dress.

Chung came to the US with her family when she was four. She developed her dream to be a fashion designer by familiarizing herself with fabrics and designs at her parents’ dry cleaning facility in New Jersey. In her teens, made t-shirts to sell at a street market.

Following graduation from the Parsons, The New School for Design, in 1995, she worked for Banana Republic and was later hired by influential designer Geoffrey Beene, where she worked for six years and rose to the position of lead designer. In 2001, she launched her brand “Doo.Ri” by using the basement of her parents’ facility as base camp for her business.

Chung has become a star designer, well known for her use of jersey fabric and draping. In 2006, she won Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Swarovski/Perry Ellis Award for Emerging Design Talent and the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion Fund (CVFF) grand prize, and got the nickname of “queen of drapery.”

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