There’s no denying that Michelle Obama is a style icon, and this is in-part thanks to her stylist working behind the scenes, Meredith Koop. Over the years, Koop has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, but with the release of Michelle’s book, Becoming, we’re beginning to hear her story. Obama has shared more than a few kind words about her White House stylist.
In an email to The New York Times, Obama wrote: “I met Meredith when she was a young sales associate about a decade ago, and ever since, I’ve been blessed to have her by my side. Together, we’ve prepared for every sort of event — from afternoons in T-shirts and gloves in a garden with middle schoolers to evenings in formal ball gowns with heads of state. Over the years, I’ve come to depend on Meredith for far more than wardrobe. She’s ridden with us through eight hectic years. She’s been a friend and mentor to our daughters. And she’s given us all a sense of comfort and home, no matter where in the world we might be.”
View this post on Instagram
NYT • • Article out today in Style Section. Did you read it? This process has been crazy for me….more on that later. Thank you and love to all of you who have supported me. ❤️🖤 • • @nytimes @nytimesfashion #fashion #michelleobama #article #press #love #support #brooklyn #gratitude
Before Koop landed this epic gig, she was a sales associate at Ikram, a clothing boutique in Chicago that Obama used to frequent. Koop spent five years of her career at Ikram, a high-end designer store (complete with art gallery and cafe) owned by Ikram Goldman. “After Barack’s election, I was able to persuade her to move to Washington and work with me as a personal aide and wardrobe stylist. Very quickly, she also became a trusted friend,” Obama explained in her book.
From there, Koop helped Obama pick outfits for meetings, events and galas. She would also prepare Obama’s outfits for international trips. “Optics governed more or less everything in the political world, and I factored this into every outfit.” explained Obama. She went on to say “[Meredith would] spend hours making sure the designers, colours, and styles we chose paid respect to the people and the countries we visited.”
“You have to celebrate fashion but also be aware of the message people are going to take away,” Koop said. “Fashion can bolster communications in the best-case scenario, or be a silent partner, or actually distract.” Which, we all know, is certainly the case with the current First Lady’s insensitive fashion choices.
Since her days in the White House, Koop has been involved in various styling projects (like one with the American Civil Liberties Union, brainstorming “ways to use clothes beyond simply making a message T-shirt”), but has recently been kept busy working with Obama for her book tour. “I really want what she wears to reflect her in a genuine way and resonate with what is in the book,” Koop told The New York Times. “For a certain percentage of the country, these are depressing times, and there’s a fine line between acknowledging that and celebrating her for who she is as a woman. Plus, a lot of her message is about connecting to younger individuals. So what does all of that look like?”
While it’s unclear as to what things Koop will get up to once the book tour has wrapped, here’s hoping we will see more of her in the years to come.