I usually share links to other sites during my Vintage Miscellany posts, but this video is so interesting (and so long) that I thought it deserved a bit of extra attention. This is a video of an event that was held in Washington, DC last week. Hosted by the US National Archives, it is a conversation about the fashions of the First Ladies.
The moderator is Tim Gunn of Project Runway, along with Valerie Steele of the Museum at FIT, Lisa Kathleen Graddy of the First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and fashion designer Tracy Reese who has dressed Mrs. Obama. Each participant brought an interesting perspective and set of knowledge, and Gunn kept the program moving.
Many of the clothing examples shown came from the Smithsonian’s collection. For years there was a wonderful exhibition that started with Martha Washington and featured a dress from each First Lady. They were all lined up in chronological order and it was an excellent timeline of two hundred years of fashion.
Several years ago this exhibition was taken down and was reinstalled as a sampling of clothes and personal items from the First Ladies. I’m so glad that I got to see the First Ladies in all their glory, as the new exhibition is not nearly so impressive. It is, however, wildly popular. I was there last spring and had to squeeze into the smallish gallery along with busloads of field-tripping schoolgirls. Still, it is a must-see exhibition for the visitor to Washington.
The question was asked of the panel participants: “Which First Lady’s style do you most admire?” To me it is Dolley Madison, if only for the fact that she came from the North Carolina backwater and was reared as a Quaker, and went on to be one to the style leaders of her day. Feel free to answer the question in the comments, and do yourself a favor and take an hour and a half to enjoy this program.