Michelle Obama Donating Inaugural Gown to Smithsonian
First Lady Michelle Obama will donate her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on Tuesday, where she will be joined by Jason Wu, the 27-year-old designer catapulted to fame when she picked his dress.
The Mrs. O blog -- the Website of record when it comes to tracking what Mrs. Obama wears and her impact on fashion -- described the gown she wore for the Jan. 20, 2009 Inaugural Balls as "a winter white one-shoulder gown flecked with organza flowers and crystals." Wu told CNN at the time the dress was "about hope. It's about newness." I'm told by the museum that Mrs. Obama will also donate the shoes and jewelry she wore with the gown. Wu will be one of the speakers at the event.
In order to add more substance to the event, and to keep with Mrs. Obama's goal of opening up White House activities to students, the White House said Friday that 32 "aspiring young designers from Huntington High School Fashion Program from New York" will attend the event, and that Mrs. Obama hopes it "will inspire talented young people to use their gifts to develop a future for themselves in the arts community whether as a hobby or as a profession." The Smithsonian will give the students a tour and lunch.
The first lady exhibit was opened in 1914 at the old Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall, and the Smithsonian continued displaying first lady memorabilia in various places. Once the Museum of American History opened in 1964, the collection found a permanent home in what was called the First Ladies Hall.
Mrs. Obama's gown is being donated in connection with the opening of a new gallery show called "A First Lady's Debut," an expansion of the "First Ladies at the Smithsonian" exhibition. That second gallery will feature 11 gowns from first ladies starting with Mamie Eisenhower and extending through Michelle Obama. Betty Ford did not have an inauguration to celebrate -- remember, Richard Nixon resigned in the Watergate scandal -- so she donated a dress worn at a state dinner.
The two galleries will feature "24 dresses and more than 100 other objects, including portraits, White House china, personal possessions and related objects from the Smithsonian's unique collection of first ladies' materials," according to the museum.