Jan 18, 2009

A First Lady A Day: Hillary

It has been fascinating to take a look back at Hillary Clinton’s inaugural gowns from the 1990s. I have gotten so used to the visual of her in tailored business pantsuits that it was a treat to see her 1993 and 1997 gowns again. There is a fascinating parallel between Mrs. Clinton’s and Mrs. Laura Bush’s Inaugural gown experiences. Both chose lesser known designers for their first gown and were criticized rather harshly. Then both went with well known established designers for the second Inaugural, and were wisely praised. Both went from a bright color ( blue or red) to a more neutral tone: gold or ice blue. It’s just interesting, that's all I am saying.

Now for the Dresses.

from www.smithsonianlegacies.si.edu : "Hillary Rodham Clinton's inaugural gown, 1993
This gown, a blue-violet beaded lace sheath with a mousseline overskirt, was created by the New York designer Sarah Phillips and made by Barbara Matera Ltd. Mrs. Clinton formally donated the gown and matching velvet coat, which she wore to eleven inaugural balls on January 20, 1993, to the National Museum of American History in 1995. "
1993. The Sara Phillips dress. I must say that at first glance, I couldn’t figure out what the criticism was all about, then I realized it was a beaded sheath with detachable over skirt. I am actually a fan of full skirts with a front reveal that shows a slim under skirt. But detachable? Did the designer think she was going to wear this again without the overskirt? I also wonder if it was a response to the beaded lace, which can go so very bridal so very quickly.

But that was then, this is now. I like the full hem. Volume is a good thing. I LOVE the color. I must say , she looks fabulous in some photos such as this one. But not quite as as good in some close-ups. Her blond hair and complexion really show well. Call me crazy, but although I don't like the sheer overskirt ( better in an opaque fabric) I actually like this now. I give it an B+.

1997. Oscar de la Renta. Of course. Mr. De la Renta is a wonderful designer of grand evening wear. He does understand what is called for. So it’s a safe choice. This gown is rich, it’s elegant, it's simple and was much better received. Only my personal choice, but I do think blondes should avoid yellow and golds. They don’t set off the hair color. A-.

1 comment:

denisebrain said...

Wow, maybe it's just the photos, but I actually like the first gown better, particularly for the deep, striking color.

Again Hollis, thank you SO MUCH for this romp through First Lady gowns!