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portrait by Kehinde Wiley, they are the first-ever White House portraits of Presidents and First Ladies to be created by African-American artists. As it turns out, though, Michelle made a political statement with more than just her choice of painter, choosing a gown by New York-based designer Michelle Smith of Milly.

The cotton gown was mainly black and white, with colorful stripes at the base. It was a look that walked the runway for the designer’s Spring 2017 show. While the gown is gorgeous simply as a colorful frock, Smith shared with The Washington Post that the whole collection actually had a more political inspiration that we might have realized. She told the publication that the looks were inspired by a “desire for equality, equality in human rights, racial equality, LGBTQ equality.” She went on to add that knots and ties throughout the silhouettes of each piece were meant to evoke a “feeling of being held back…that we’re not quite there yet.”

In anticipation of the portrait, Smith sent a few iterations of the dress to Obama. Ultimately, the former First Lady chose a look that was nearly identical to that from the runway, save for a slightly more covered dress. And, while the poignant political message from Smith’s collection made the look all the more important, the designer stressed the material and construction as well, noting, “I think what makes [the dress] so modern is the element of comfort — there are

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