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Lisa's trip to the white house

This past week, Lulu Frost founder Lisa Salzer was one of 150+ designers invited to the White House to celebrate the fashion industry with First Lady, Michelle Obama.  A full day of workshops and discussion panels was followed by an evening reception in which the First Lady and Anna Wintour spoke separately about the significant role fashion plays in the economy.   They also stressed the importance of inspiring our young to become the next generation of fashion designers.  We excitedly sat down with Lisa when she returned, getting the full insider’s scoop. 

*See below for a Q+A:

Was it your first time visiting the White House?

Yes.  I visited Washington, D.C. back in 8th grade and I stood outside the gate to the White House but I never thought I would be invited in.

What did you wear?

I wore a black and white neoprene ruffled dress by Lanvin (one of my absolute favorite designers), Robert Clergerie black and white beaded sandals, a Walter Steiger black leather handbag and custom resin and pearl winged crystal earrings I designed last minute.  I wore jewelry pieces from our upcoming Spring/Summer ’15 Flora Fauna collection along with an assortment of pieces from our Transcend collection.  Of course I loaded on the jewels – I had to impress Mrs. Obama!

Can you give us a breakdown of the evening?

The night began in the lobby of the W Hotel around 4:30PM for cocktails and photos. My boyfriend, Marlon Taylor-Wiles and I met up with my good friend and style/beauty expert Mary Alice Stephenson, fashion designer Bibhu Mohapatra, the founders of Cushnie et Ochs and others. After cocktails we headed toward the White House where we encountered multiple checkpoints and lots of familiar faces – Zac Posen, Diane Von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera and many more.

The White House was breathtaking – we were greeted with mannequins dressed in many of the stunning garments Michelle Obama has worn, including her inauguration dress, designed by Jason Wu. There was also an incredibly talented and cool looking violinist duo at the entrance named Chargaux, decked from head to toe in Thom Browne.

We then had the freedom to walk around the first floor and explore. We ventured into the Red Room and Blue Room and I took photos in the gorgeous powder room under portraits of Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Kennedy. I even had the pleasure of meeting Anna Wintour during this self-guided White House tour.

Soon enough we were assembled into a receiving line so we could meet Michelle Obama along with her stylist Meredith Koop (the long time liaison between Mrs. Obama and Lulu Frost jewelry). We shared a very credible and kind interaction with the First Lady and spent the rest of the evening chatting with other guests. One of the best moments was witnessing Michelle tear up when she spoke about the value of American design, thanking us for our contributions. After the speech, someone from the audience shouted, “We love you Michelle!” followed by cheering from the crowd.

Who were you most excited to meet?

Michelle Obama (obviously), Narciso Rodriguez, Mary Katrantzou, Cecilia Dean and Anna Wintour.

What was the most inspirational part about the evening?

I felt inspired the entire evening but aesthetically, the interiors were incredible.   The color-coordinated rooms were striking and I marveled at the details, from the crown molding to the antique furniture.  You could sense the history and the great people that have passed through the White House halls.  Aside from the interiors it was inspirational to hear Michelle Obama’s speech.  I specifically remember these words: “We are all trying to leave our mark on the world.”  She acknowledged how hard it is to own a business, which was motivating and reinvigorating.  She also encouraged us to inspire our youth to follow their dreams as future artists and designers.

What surprised you the most about the White House? 

I was really surprised by the staff!  They were all so cool with joyful and youthful spirits.  The people within the White House really gave it a modern feel.  I have to admit I expected sort of a stuffy vibe, but overall the night was lighthearted and full of energy.

Describe meeting Michelle Obama in three words? 

Warm, inviting, gracious.  Can I use more?! 

What’s one memory you will forever hold on to? 

The moment I met Michelle Obama and introduced myself as the designer behind the CODE fine jewelry earrings we made for her daughter Malia.  We sent Malia the numbers “7” and “4” studs in 14K gold for her date of birth and when Michelle realized I was the founder of Lulu Frost she smiled and gave me a huge hug.  I’ll never forget the wave of recognition that came over her face – I was thrilled!