Fashion designer Donna Ricco joins Mount Mary fashion department

Ricco, whose dresses are sold at major retailers, will leverage professional connections for the university

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Fashion designer Donna Ricco, a Mount Mary University alumna whose dresses rose in popularity when former First Lady Michelle Obama wore one during a 2008 television appearance, will return to her alma mater for a position in the college’s fashion department, filling in a spot after a tedious fashion executive search.

Ashley Brooks, chair of Mount Mary’s Fashion Department, and newly appointed Executive Fellow Donna Ricco.

Ricco, a 1981 graduate of Mount Mary, will join the university as an executive fellow. In her new position, she will be able to leverage her expertise and professional network, which includes connections in the fields of design and textiles, merchandising, sales and production, the university said.

“Donna Ricco’s dresses have been sold by every major department store and specialty chain in the country,” said Christine Pharr, president of Mount Mary. “Her name carries national recognition and respect, a name known for her creative vision and her integrity. We are delighted to welcome Donna Ricco home to Milwaukee, and Mount Mary University.”

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Ricco will divide her time between the Mount Mary campus and her home in New York, where she will also work on behalf of the university to expand its industry connections.

“My vision is to research these trends and to connect and interact with those individuals and organizations whose ideas and methods will impact the way we build the fashion program at Mount Mary,” Ricco said.

Ricco’s dresses are sold at major retailers nationwide. Their claim to fame came when Michelle Obama wore a Donna Ricco dress while appearing on the “The View” as she campaigned for her husband’s first term in office. It led to a major boost in sales, with 2,000 of the dresses sold in a single day following Obama’s appearance.

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Ricco has since retired from the day-to-day design of her label’s dresses.

“I’ve been thinking about how I might put this interest to good use,” she said. “Because I stay connected to Mount Mary, I realized I could give back by sharing my interest and experiences, as well as my vast network of industry professionals.”

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