History buffs will have an opportunity to view some of history’s most fashionable artifacts this month at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda. More than 20 formal gowns, fashion dresses and clothing items from American First Ladies will be on display starting Wednesday in a new exhibit, Why They Wore It: The Politics & Pop Culture of First Ladies’ Fashion.
According to guest curator Carl Anthony, the exhibit explores how first lady fashion has shaped American styles, and in some cases, public policy. The center piece of the exhibit is a red coat made famous by first lady Pat Nixon during President Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.
“It was Mrs. Nixon, with that bright red coat, who was not in government meetings, but with people,” Anthony said at a reception ceremony on Tuesday.
Bill Baribault, President and CEO of the Richard Nixon Foundation, also referenced the coat in question during his remarks, saying that while many in China were skeptical of American efforts in the communist country, Nixon’s coat and her efforts to meet with ordinary people sparked a strong sense of friendship that continues to this day.
However, the coat isn’t the only draw for those interested in diplomatic couture.
Featured in the exhibition is silver-jeweled Dolce & Gabbana dress worn by first lady Melania Trump at the G7 Summit in 2017. This will be the first time in which one of her dresses goes on display outside of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, the exhibit features replica dresses installed on a runway down the entry hall of the museum. Dresses worn by women such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan will be on display. Furthermore, fashion experts and industry titans will present weekly lectures on the first ladies’ fashions and their impact.
Why They Wore It opens Aug. 1, 2018 and will be on display through Sep. 12, 2018. Admission to the special exhibit is included with paid admission to the Nixon Library. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.