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First Lady's Inaugural Wardrobe Sparkles


Laura Bush's wardrobe for the week includes a Carolina Herrera gown. (Courtesy of The White House)
Over the years, a small group of names have become associated with Mrs. Bush's public wardrobe. De la Renta is one, as well as Carolina Herrera, who has created a raspberry awning-striped silk shirtdress for the Texas State Society's Black Tie and Boots Ball on Jan. 19. It has a full skirt, placket buttons and a bodice that recalls the look of a western shirt. Mrs. Bush has also enlisted the services of designer Peggy Jennings, a favorite since her days as a governor's wife. Jennings has created a pale moss, long-sleeve dress with a jewel neckline and a boucle wool coat. Both are trimmed in ivory grosgrain ribbon. Mrs. Bush will wear the suit for daytime events on Jan. 19. For the candlelight dinners that evening, Jennings created a rose quartz, beaded lace gown with an hourglass silhouette.

While Mrs. Bush enlisted the aide of three designers for her inaugural week wardrobe, her daughters, Jenna and Barbara, had the combined forces of four design houses: Lela Rose, de la Renta, Derek Lam and Badgley Mischka. With their choices, they have opted for the familiar, the traditional, the new and the va-va-voom.

_____From Robin Givhan_____
The First Lady Sews Up Her Inaugural Wardrobe (The Washington Post, Jan 7, 2005)
The Extravagance That Goes to Waist (The Washington Post, Jan 5, 2005)
Answering the Call of the Wild (The Washington Post, Dec 17, 2004)
Armani's Perfect Fit (The Washington Post, Dec 14, 2004)
A Designer Who Wore His City on His Sleeve (The Washington Post, Dec 10, 2004)
_____Arts & Living_____
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They wore Rose's girlie designs during their father's 2001 inauguration. Their choice of de la Renta underscores his appeal to a broad range of women from actress Sarah Jessica Parker to old-guard Washington philanthropists. Lam's business is not even three years old, but he has established a reputation for sophisticated, unfussy sportswear with an urbane flair.

Most surprising, however, is their selection of the design team of Mark Badgley and James Mischka. The two designers had never met the twins. They had never made an inaugural anything. They were best known for their lavishly beaded, sexy evening gowns favored by Hollywood stars such as Ashley Judd. But when the White House called a couple months ago to make an appointment for Jenna and Barbara Bush, the designers were happy to help. Dealing with the Secret Service, they said, was a far easier chore than wrestling with the demands of the stylists who usually accompany starlets.

Badgley Mischka is a label that has experienced serious financial turmoil recently. Despite its high profile and strong Hollywood following, it was unprofitable and its parent company, Escada, put the brand up for sale. Last year, after missing the spring 2005 season, it was purchased by Candies, the youth-oriented footwear company that once ran an advertisement featuring entertainer Jenny McCarthy perched on a toilet in a pair of four-inch wooden mules.


Badgley Mischka's design for Jenna Bush's inaugural gown. (Courtesy of The White House)
Jenna Bush's Badgley Mischka dress was designed for the official inaugural balls and is a Granny Smith apple green silk crepe slink with metallic leather and gemstone insets. Their dress for Barbara Bush is intended for the Black Tie and Boots Ball and is cut from aquamarine silk chiffon. It is held up by jeweled spaghetti straps and has an open back and a V-cut neckline that dips so low -- to the base of the sternum -- that Mischka felt compelled to offer reassurance to the American people that "there will be no wardrobe malfunction for the first family." Each dress has a small train. And both young women, say the designers, are well aware of the perils of walking backward.

While Barbara Bush's dress, because of its bareness, might lead one to believe that it is the sexier of the two gowns, Badgley disagrees. "Jenna's dress is sexy, too."


Badgley Mischka's design for Barbara Bush's inaugural gown. (Courtesy of The White House)
During the week, the young women will also wear jewelry designed by Anthony Camargo and David Nakard Armstrong, who are originally from Austin. They work under the label Anthony Nak and their jewelry is distinguished by semiprecious stones wrapped in fine gold chains to create a lattice effect. A simple pair of drop earrings can sell for nearly $5,000, and it is the sort of of-the-moment jewelry regularly seen in the pages of InStyle.

The president, according to the White House, has not added a new suit to his wardrobe for the swearing-in. But he will maintain a tradition established in 1995 when he was first sworn in as governor of Texas. He will wear a pair of gold cuff links inset with platinum Navy wings that were given to him by his father. President George H.W. Bush received them in 1943 when he was commissioned into the armed services in Corpus Christi, Tex.

This will be the fourth swearing-in to which his son has worn them.


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