Of all the designers who have had the chance to grace Michelle Obama with their art, one stands out among the rest. Milly co-founder and creative director Michelle Smith is the one whose gown is featured in the former first lady’s official portrait.

The official portrait was unveiled recently at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. and there, Smith said, “I was humbled to be able to create such a special piece for such an intelligent and influential female, who also reflects such confidence, beauty, kindness and compassion.”

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The design was based on one from her spring 2017 collection but underwent some small changes.

“I used the same cotton poplin and minimal, geometric print to create something more conservative and modern,” Smith says of the revised design added a bow sash waist and a slightly fuller skirt. “The outcome is minimal in shape, but has beautiful lace and draping details. I wanted to create a dress that reflected Mrs. Obama’s personality—bold and confident, yet approachable and relatable.”

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This, of course, was not the first time Smith had the opportunity to dress Michelle Obama, in fact, Meredith Koop, the former first lady’s stylist, often reached out to the Milly brand. Even during her last day in the White House, Obama wore a Milly blouse.

Amy Sherald, the artist who painted the portrait, discussed her own inspiration during the unveiling. She said, “It has an abstract pattern that reminded me of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian’s geometric paintings. But Milly’s design also resembles the inspired quilt masterpieces made by the women of Gee’s Bend, a small remote black community in Alabama where they compose quilts in geometries that transform clothes and fabric remnants into masterpieces.”

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Sherald added, “Mrs. Obama, you exist in our minds and hearts in the way that you do because we can see ourselves in you.

“The act of Michelle Obama being her authentic self became a profound statement that engaged all of us. Because what you represent to this country is an ideal. A human being with integrity, intellect, confidence and compassion. And the paintings I create aspire to express these attributes—a message of humanity.”

What do you think about the Milly gown in the official portrait? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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