The Washington Times - January 15, 2009, 04:00PM

Fashion designer Nick Verreos, of Project Runway fame, is dipping his toes into First Lady couture. This weekend at an inaugural celebration hosted by the California State Society, Mr. Verreos will present “Inaugural looks inspired by America’s First Ladies.”

“I did a lot of research into our more historical first ladies and based on that asked myself what they would wear today,” Mr. Verreos tells The Washington Times. “My designs are like makeovers. They represent the 2009 version of these women.”

Proving that high style is bipartisan, Mr. Verreos’s “inspirations” range from Whig Martha Washington, to Republican Mary Todd Lincoln, and, of course, every designer’s dream muse, Democrat Jacqueline Kennedy.

For the first of the firsts Martha Washington, Mr. Verreos designed a crimson red silk crepe gown with a plunging neckline and body-skimming fit, not exactly a dress one associates with the legendary Mrs. W, but compliments her confident style.

“She was strong and independent, but stood by her man. She could walk into a room and own it,” Mr. Verrios says he learned of Mrs. Washington.

Mr. Verreos says Mrs. Washington would most likely select Oscar de la Renta or Chanel for her twenty-first century wardrobe because of their “regal and aristocratic” reputations.

Dolley Madison, Mrs. Washington’s successor was ” a warm and fun loving woman who loved to have receptions,” Mr. Verreos explains. For the Madison gown, Mr. Verreos designed a black silk taffeta gown with flirty multi-tiered ruffles.

“I can see Dolley in Galliano today. They both have the same  sense of humor.”

The First Lady collection also includes designs inspired by Nancy Reagan, Louisa Adams, Laura Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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Stephanie Green and R. Denise Yourse