THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady
First Lady Formally Donates Her 1993 Inaugural Gown and Coat to the Smithsonian Museum's National Museum of American History
First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton formally donated her 1993 Inaugural gown and coat to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History today, March 6, 1995. The gown will go on display in the museum's "Ceremonial Court," an exhibition area patterned on interior sections of the 1902 White House. Mrs. Clinton wore the gown to the eleven Inaugural balls that she attended with the President on January 20, 1993.
The gown and coat were created by New York designer Sarah Phillips. With a fitted bodice, the long sleeved blue-violet sheath is made from reembroidered alancon leaf motif lace and is worked with heliotrope iridescent crystals and beads. The flowing over-skirt, open at the front, of iridescent blue-violet mussolini is embroidered with beads and crystals in a wisteria motif. The over-skirt is constructed with a tulle underskirt. The crystal beaded and embroidered lace applique belt is closed with a jeweled buckle.
The kimono-style coat is made of iridescent blue and gold velvet with a jewel clasp at the neck.
The "First Ladies Gowns Collection" exhibit at the National Museum of American History was established in 1914, when Helen Taft donated a gown to the museum. Since then, the Smithsonian has received Inaugural gowns and other dresses from every First Lady. In 1987, the museum closed the "First Ladies Gowns Collection" when it was discovered that a number of the gowns were deteriorating.
The new exhibit, entitled "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image," opened in 1992. The exhibit examines the public and private roles of First Ladies within the context of women's and presidential history, and documents the accomplishments of First Ladies as domestic and political partners, advocates of social change, hostesses, promoters of the arts and culture and as campaigners.
The "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" exhibit is divided into three major sections: "Political Roles," "The First Ladies Gown Collection" and "Shaping the Public Image."
Mrs. Clinton's gown will be displayed with those of First Ladies Barbara Bush, Nancy Davis Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Elizabeth "Betty" Bloomer Ford, Patricia Ryan Nixon, Claudia "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.
In addition to Mrs. Clinton's Inaugural gown, the Clintons have donated several additional pieces of memorabilia -- one of President Clinton's watches, Chelsea Clinton's ballet slippers and the State Gift presented to the Clintons by King Hussein.
"The Smithsonian Institution has my great admiration for its continuing efforts to educate and enlighten the American public in all aspects of our national history and culture. The gowns in this exhibit don't just represent one day or one evening in the life of the First Ladies. They reflect the times in which they lived, and provide us with a sense of our nation's rich history." -- First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton