Today First Lady Michelle Obama continued the long tradition of First Ladies donating their inaugural gowns to the Smithsonian. Mrs. Obama presented her 2009 inaugural gown to the National Museum of American History, joined by dress designer, Jason Wu, and thirty two aspiring young designers from the Huntington High School Fashion Program in New York.
The First Lady recognized the historical significance of the day in her remarks:
When we look at the gown that Jackie Kennedy wore 50 years ago, or the one that Mary Todd Lincoln wore more than a hundred years before that, it really takes us beyond the history books and the photographs, and it helps us understand that history is really made by real live people.
The detail of each gown –- the fabric, the cut, the color –- tells us something much more about each single First Lady. It’s a visual reminder that we each come from such different backgrounds, from different generations, and from different walks of life.
Each gown places us right in the moment and makes us wonder about the intimate details of that evening, like how did she feel in the dress? Did her feet hurt in those shoes? How many times did her husband step on that train? But, more importantly, these gowns and this exhibit uniquely define a moment in our American history.
And Huntington students Stasa D., a senior, and Marie C., a sophomore, shared some reflections with us after the event:
We learned that motivation will make you successful and that you must believe in yourself to prosper. We are extremely thankful for being given this chance and it really was a dream come true.
Today [the First Lady] helped us become part of history by being the first high school ever invited to this ceremony and it will be recorded and remembered forever. We left behind our book of designs which has also become part of the First Ladies Resource Collection and may someday be on display. We will always remember today and the wonderful opportunities we were given. We are committed to meeting her expectations in our own lives and someday inspiring the next generation to come.