- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2002

Jackie sparkled in silver brocade. Hillary donned midnight purple silk. Laura sheathed herself in red Chantilly lace.
Yesterday, the first lady joined a long line of presidential spouses to donate her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian Institution, a year after she wore it.
"I am proud to give my inaugural wardrobe to the Smithsonian," said Mrs. Bush. "[The exhibit] allows people all over the world to be part of something that happened 200 years ago, 20 years ago or a year ago. And I am proud that my gown will be displayed next to another gown that was worn in an inauguration 200 years ago of another George George Washington."
The red silk-and-lace creation is long-sleeved, scoop-necked and full-skirted and is covered with crystal beads. It becomes part of the Smithsonian Institution's First Ladies Collection. The gown, the matching coat, the shoes and the bag will be displayed in the museum's current exhibit: The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden.
This new exhibit details the lives and times of America's 43 presidents. It features, among other things, Thomas Jefferson's wooden lap desk where he wrote the Declaration of Independence; Abraham Lincoln's top hat from the night of his assassination and George Washington's battle sword.
"Mrs. Bush, I am sure this gown holds many memories for you," said Marc Pachter, acting director of the National Museum of American History, where the gown will be displayed. "Now it will become part of America's collective memory. It will become part of the personal memories of the millions of visitors that come here."
Lawrence M. Small, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, detailed the courage and sacrifices of first ladies: Dolley Madison remaining in the White House during the War of 1812 in order to pack up national treasures; Eleanor Roosevelt comforting the country in a speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Laura Bush, he said, rose to the occasion in the tradition of first ladies in the days after September 11.
"One year ago today, how could we have ever imagined the challenges to come?" he said. "But Laura Bush has been tireless in her efforts to move the country forward."
Much has been made of the fashion choices and personal styles of first ladies. Fashion commentators droned on in 2000 about Mrs. Bush's preference for muted, earthy tones and pastels. The vivid red of her gown took some outside Texas by surprise.
But the designer of the red dress, Dallas-based Michael Faircloth, says Mrs. Bush "enjoys color" and the dress was a perfect fit.
So says Marcia Jackson, longtime friend of Mrs. Bush. "It is subdued elegance," she said yesterday. "It is typical of Texas culture for its bright color and beads. That dress was not out of character for her."

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