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First of all, thank you Dr. Glass for the wonderful introduction. I’d like to thank the Smithsonian for inviting me to be here today. I’d especially like to thank Mrs. Obama for this incredible opportunity. To say that she has changed my life is truly an understatement.
There’s no doubt that designing the First Lady’s inaugural gown has been the single greatest professional and personal accomplishment in my life so far. What an honor. I could never have imagined that, as a 26 year old Taiwan-born immigrant who came to the United States with dreams of becoming a fashion designer, that I would one day be standing here. I’ve learned first-hand that America is truly the land of opportunity.
Over the past year and half, many people have asked me what it felt like when I learned the First Lady had chosen to wear my design for the inauguration. Frankly, I had no idea my design was being seriously considered until I, along with the rest of the world, saw Mrs. Obama step out on television. Imagine my surprise, not only to be witnessing history in the making, but to actually be a part of this incredible moment.
Many people have also asked me about the inspiration for the gown. What was going through my mind? What was the meaning behind the design? The truth is, I was simply inspired by the moment. I was inspired by Mrs. Obama’s poise, grace and intelligence. I was inspired by the overwhelming optimism that she and President Obama represents. I was inspired by the fact that I was able to come to the United States to realize my dreams. I cannot think of anywhere else where this kind of opportunity could exist.
Finally, the question most people have asked me is what would I to say to Mrs. Obama if given the opportunity to meet her in person. That’s the easiest question of all and one I am honored to answer in front of you all today. Mrs. Obama, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your incredible support. Thank you for having the courage and vision to choose a gown made by a young designer who didn’t fit the traditional mold. Thank you for reminding us all that in this country nothing is impossible. Most of all, thank you for allowing my story to be a small part of this incredible moment in American history.
March 9, 2010