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Melania Trump donates her inaugural ball gown to the Smithsonian

by Lindsay Lowe /

When Melania Trump stepped onto the stage with her husband, President Donald Trump, at his inauguration in January, she was wearing a piece of history.

 The Trumps arrive at the Freedom Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Getty Images

The white, off-the-shoulder gown she wore that night just went on permanent display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in keeping with the time-honored tradition of first ladies donating their inaugural ball gowns to the museum.

Mrs. Trump made a short speech at the museum on Oct. 20 to mark the donation of the dress, a silk crepe gown with a slit skirt, a cascading ruffle, and a slim, red ribbon around the waist.

She took a moment to recognize the gown’s creator, Hervé Pierre, who has also designed for Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

“I have had a passion for design from a very young age, and had a very precise idea of what I wanted for such a historic evening,” the first lady told the crowd. “I wanted to work with someone who would do more than just design a dress. I wanted someone who would be willing to collaborate with me.”

She said she worked with Pierre to create a “modern, sleek, light, unique and unexpected look” and was “so pleased with our end result.”

 Mrs. Trump poses alongside her inaugural ball gown, which she donated to the Smithsonian's First Ladies Collection. AFP/Getty Images

Mrs. Trump also thanked Pierre for creating such an impressive gown in such a limited time, and hinted at some of the stress she and her family faced in the weeks leading up to the inauguration.

“As most of you know, before being elected president, my husband was never in politics. So you can imagine that after he won, we were very busy with all that goes into preparing for a new administration and all the changes that we as a family would be facing,” the first lady said.

“To be honest, what I would wear to the inaugural ball was the last thing on my mind. In fact, by the time I got around to thinking about my wardrobe choice, poor Hervé was only given two weeks to design and produce this couture piece.”

 The first lady wanted her inaugural ball gown to be "modern, sleek (and) light." Getty Images

First ladies have been giving their dresses to the Smithsonian for more than 100 years. Helen Taft started the tradition when she donated the gown she wore to her husband’s 1909 inauguration, and since then, every first lady who attended an inaugural ball has donated her dress to the museum in Washington, D.C.

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AFP - Getty Images
See Melania Trump's most notable style and fashion moments as first lady.

Mrs. Trump said she felt “honored” to participate in this long-standing tradition.

 Melania Trump poses alongside her inaugural ball gown, which is now on permanent display at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. AFP - Getty Images

“The Smithsonian has the unique honor and ability to freeze time and tell future generations the stories of our nation’s history,” she said. “I’m so honored and grateful to become part of this history.”

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