Narciso Rodriguez cited as top fashion designer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez will receive a National Design Award this year from the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, along with 10 other top names in design.

Rodriguez designed the memorable black and red dress worn by first lady Michelle Obama in Chicago on election night in 2008. The dress recently went on display for the first time at the National Archives to represent her signature style in history. Earlier, Rodriguez designed Carolyn Bessette's wedding dress for her 1996 marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr.

The New York City-based Cooper-Hewitt museum announced this year's recipients of the design awards Thursday. The museum said Rodriguez "redefined American style for the past two decades, playing a singular role in global fashion through his structured and elegantly minimal designs." He has also been named one of the nation's most influential Hispanics by Time magazine.

In an email to the AP, Rodriguez said he was "elated and moved" by the honor. "It means so much to me to have my work recognized by an institution that I hold in such high regard," he said.

Asked to characterize what he considers to be his contributions to American style and design, Rodriguez said: "I have always been passionate about process and craft. My focus is to make clothes that celebrate women and are relevant to the way we live."

This year's winners also include brand designers Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar for lifetime achievement; architect Witold Rybczynski for design mind; online marketplace Etsy for corporate and institutional achievement; Angela Brooks and Lawrence Scarpa for architecture; San Francisco design studio Office for communication design; Aaron Koblin of San Francisco for interaction design; Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors for interior design; Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture for landscape design; and San Francisco design firm LUNAR for product design.

Museum Director Caroline Baumann said this year marks the 15th year of honoring the nation's top designers.

"I am delighted to welcome this new class of extraordinary designers, each of whom represent the very best in their discipline and demonstrate design's power to affect the quality of our life, community, economy and environment," she said in announcing the awards.

The first lady serves as honorary patron of the National Design Awards, which were launched at the White House in 2000. A jury of design leaders and educators reviews nominations and selects winners based on their excellence, innovation and public impact.


Associated Press writer Beth Harpaz contributed to this report.


Follow Brett Zongker at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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