First Lady Melania Trump donated her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History (NMAH) in Washington D.C. on Friday. A ceremony was held to honor the dresses' entry into the museum's collection, "The First Ladies." The popular collection has hosted dresses from several preceding first ladies, including Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. 

Melania is the ninth first lady to participate in a Smithsonian presentation ceremony of her gown. The celebration allows for the museum to adequately thank the first lady for donating a dress that will aid in documenting its historical significance for years to come. Melania's dress was made viewable to the public when the NMAH museum reopened Friday afternoon.

"It is an honor and a privilege to dedicate my inaugural gown to such an iconic exhibit at the National Museum of American History," Melania Trump said in a press release Thursday. 

French-American fashion costume designer Herv­é Pierre cultivated the now famous gown President Donald Trump's wife wore during the Inaugural Ball in January. The vanilla-colored off-the-shoulder gown boasts a slit skirt and a ruffled accent, which flows from the neckline to the hem. The dress also features a thin, red ribbon. It was designed in collaboration with Melania. 

 

On display when we re-open at 2 p.m. today: First Lady Melania Trump’s inaugural gown. First Lady Helen Taft began the tradition of donating a gown to the @Smithsonian in 1912. Mrs. Trump is the ninth first lady to take part in a Smithsonian presentation ceremony of her gown, an event first attended by Lady Bird Johnson, who donated a gown she wore to a White House state dinner for the British Prime Minister. She later donated her 1965 inaugural gown to the collection. Mrs. Trump’s gown is a vanilla silk crepe off-the-shoulder dress with slit skirt, a ruffled accent trim encircling the neckline that flows down to the hem to trail ever so slightly onto the floor, and a thin claret ribbon tied around the waist in a small bow. It was designed by Hervé Pierre in collaboration with Melania Trump. We asked Curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy of our Division of Political History about her favorite part of the gown. Her answer: “the undulating ruffled trim!” Swipe to see two other gowns, including Helen Taft’s and Mamie Eisenhower’s. More on our blog: http://s.si.edu/FLgown (Link in profile.) #FLOTUS #FirstLadies #FirstLadiesGowns #FashionHistory #AmericanHistory

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"If some people don’t want to dress the first lady, that’s the beauty of freedom," Pierre told the Washington Post Friday. "That's also my right to say yes. I wanted to. It was beside the political thing. It was not even a question...It was about the honor of the country."

Helen Taft was the initial first lady to be represented in the museum's collection in 1912, but the museum has cleared a space for its newest addition — Melania's gown — to be displayed at the exhibit's center.

"Melania Trump is taking part in a more than century-old tradition," John Gray, director of the museum, said in a press release Thursday. "The first inaugural gown donated to the Smithsonian was by Helen Taft, and more than 100 years later we are proud to have Melania Trump donate to this extraordinary collection."

 

"The First Ladies" exhibit features 26 dresses that have garnered recognition within America's political history, with Jackie Kennedy's yellow silk gown and Eleanor Roosevelt's blue gown inaugural gown included among the pack. More than 160 other objects have also been displayed in the collection, including White House china and personal possessions, among other items.

The museum asks each first lady to donate a dress to the collection in an effort to help document historical events in American society. The process of preparing a gown's collection debut can take up to half a year following the presidential inauguration.

"Soon after a presidential inauguration, the museum begins receiving questions from the public about when they will be able to see the new dress on exhibit," NMAH wrote in a blog post on Friday. "It takes anywhere from six months to a year and a half after the inauguration for the new gown to appear on display."

Several individuals including curators and exhibit designers are then hired to work alongside the first lady's staff to plan the ceremonial event.