theGrio’s 100: Laura Smalls, designer who dresses the first lady

theGRIO's 100 - Michelle Obama has brought national attention to black designer Laura Smalls, who is known among the fashionable set for lovely clothing that is feminine and tailored...

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Who is Laura Smalls?

Laura Smalls is a fashion designer who has been in business for herself for several years. With the support of fashion industry legend Andre Leon Talley, Smalls launched a line of 30 cocktail dresses to great acclaim while still designing for another firm. The success of her initial line enabled her to slowly transition into running her own independent brand. With her husband’s support, Smalls became a successful entrepreneur in addition to blossoming as a clothing creator. But, there was something more exciting in store for the designer in addition to starting her own clothing company.

Why is she on theGrio’s 100?

Smalls quickly became known among the fashionable set looking for lovely clothing that is feminine and tailored, yet fun and modern. It did not take long for first lady Michelle Obama to discover her and add Smalls to the list of American designers she frequently wears, such as Michael Kors and Tracy Reese.

In fact, first lady Michelle Obama wore two dresses to the Democratic National Convention held in September 2012 by Laura Smalls. The most eye-catching of the two — a boatneck, off-the-shoulder piece with a striking brocade pattern — was selected by Michelle Obama for the moment when the president accepted the Democratic nomination. This — a sure sign of the first lady’s approval — made Smalls a name to watch in the world of fashion overnight.

What’s next for Smalls?

In a recent interview with theGrio, Smalls was elated over her plans for her Fall 2013 collection. “I am just starting the process… so I think it will be a surprise to me as well,” she said of her creative direction. “I am feeling a bit more tailored and elegant direction this time!” Yet, you can expect her to stick to her core design dictum: “Even though designing starts with a dream… it has to work for [a] woman.”