Women’s age-old quandary of “what to wear” to a very special event reached its zenith as America’s First Lady Melania Trump pondered choosing her 2017 inaugural gown.
Further, not only was she selecting her attire to wear in the hyper-scrutinized international spotlight of elegant formal evening events celebrating her husband’s election as president, but whatever garment Mrs. Trump chose would actually join the dresses of other first ladies as part of a permanent exhibit in the National Museum of American History.
It is said to be the most popular exhibit in all nine Smithsonian museums in Washington.
No pressure there.
“It is a very daunting task to choose a gown,” Mrs. Trump told an invitation-only crowd of about 200 attending the official donation ceremony.
“I had a very precise idea of what I wanted: modern, sleek, light and unexpected,” she said she told her designer Herve Pierre, who, beaming to applause, joined Mrs. Trump on stage near the conclusion of the event. She said she and Pierre, because of jammed schedules, had only about two weeks to decide on and prepare the vanilla silk crepe off-the-shoulder gown with a slit skirt, ruffled accent trim from neckline to hem, and a claret-colored ribbon around the waist.
“I am so pleased with my choice,” Mrs. Trump said. “I am so honored and grateful to be a part of history,” she continued, speaking from a podium near the gown which was displayed on a life-size mannequin toward the edge of the stage. Mrs. Trump wore a very pale pinkish-beige short-sleeved dress with matching long jacket at the historic donation ceremony.
“We are proud to have Melania Trump donate to the extraordinary collection,” museum Director John Gray told the gathering. “Today, Melania Trump is taking part in a more-than-century-old tradition.”
Although there is no “requirement” that the women do so, first ladies have traditionally donated their inaugural gowns.
As the crowd dispersed, aides transported the gown for immediate public display in the collection. Begun in 1914 with a 1912 gown donation by First Lady Helen Taft, the Smithsonian First Ladies exhibition features 26 dresses and more than 160 other objects, including White House china and personal possessions.
Among the dresses displayed are Grace Coolidge’s flapper-style evening dress, Jackie Kennedy’s yellow-silk dress worn to the Kennedy administration’s first state dinner in 1961, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s slate blue crepe gown which she wore to the 1933 inaugural ball, explained a spokesperson.
Admission to the museum is free.