Dressing to Impress, for Posterity
Rushing down to the Smithsonian for a close look at Michelle Obama's inaugural gown? Relax -- it'll take a while.
"It's not going to be there tomorrow," says Lisa Kathleen Graddy, curator of the First Ladies Collection at the National Museum of American History. Obama's ivory Jason Wu dress won't go on display for at least six months; it was a full year before Laura Bush's 2001 red gown was unveiled.
The process begins when Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough writes a letter formally asking the first lady to donate to the historic collection, which has 21 gowns. (Second-term inaugural dresses usually end up in presidential libraries.)
Then museum officials will meet with her and create a mannequin for the gown, then make repairs as necessary. Notice the president stepping on the dress as they danced? Probably a few rips in the hem.
Jewelry designer Loree Rodkin, who lent the earrings and ring worn with the gown, plans to donate them to the museum, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Graddy also has her eye on the yellow Isabel Toledo ensemble Obama wore earlier in the day. "I would very much like the outfit from the swearing-in ceremony," she tells us. The museum has only one other: Eleanor Roosevelt's lavender velvet dress from 1933.
But one piece of inaugural finery is already available to anyone who wants a copy: Aretha Franklin's love-it-or-hate-it "bow hat." The singer wore the gray-felt-and-Swarovski-crystal topper at the swearing-in -- and the phone at Luke Song's store in Detroit hasn't stopped ringing since. He's already sold almost 1,000 of a $179 version in satin ribbon and plans to launch an entire line in different colors. "I'd be very stupid not to take this opportunity," he told the Wall Street Journal. "It's like a huge gift."
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