The First Lady Effect

BarbaraBush89The Canadian American designer Arnold Scaasi started a successful couture design business in the 1960s, just as similar businesses were closing. His business was lucrative, with many celebrities among his clients.  Nonetheless, according to the engaging book The Fashion Cycle by Irene Daria, by the late 1970s he wasn’t getting much respect from industry insiders. Fashion writers gossiped during his runway shows and made disparaging comments about his designs.

That changed when First Lady Barbara Bush chose one of his dresses for the 1989 Inaugural Ball.  When he gave a show in March of that year, “This time everyone paid significantly more attention to his show, and what conversation took placed centered around guess which styles the First Lady might pick for herself.”(236)

Barbara Bush loved the gown so much that she was very reluctant to give it to the Smithsonian for their First Lady collection.  And when Scaasi won the coveted Council of Fashion Designers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, Barbara Bush was on hand to give him the award.

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2 Responses to The First Lady Effect

  1. Interesting! Even a First Lady who was not known for her style has fashion clout. I’ve seen that dress, and it is beautiful; perfect for Mrs. Bush.

  2. Jen O says:

    This dress is really perfect in the way it covers up the body without seeming so, and the camouflage effect created by using bright colored reflective textile in the draped skirt, but light absorbing dark velvet in the bodice. touche!

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