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See Michelle Obama's Red Jason Wu Inaugural Gown In Person

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For one year only, visitors to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will be able to get an up-close look at Michelle Obama's second inaugural ball gown. The ruby-red Jason Wu silk chiffon halter dress is on a special loan from the White House and is now displayed at the center of the museum's First Ladies exhibit.

The Smithsonian doesn't usually feature gowns from second inaugurations, which are instead exhibited at presidential libraries. But since presidential libraries can take years to build, the White House graciously loaned the red gown to the Smithsonian, political history curator Lisa Kathleen Graddy noted. The hope is that this will start a new tradition for second inaugural gowns. The dress loan also coincides with the 100th anniversary of the First Ladies exhibit.

What about the first Jason Wu inaugural gown, which was a gift to the museum? That's tucked away in storage for conservation during the year the red dress is on view, but there's a giant poster of Michelle wearing it during the inauguration so viewers can compare and contrast between the two dresses. Similarities: bare arms, silk chiffon, flowing silhouette. "This one seems to be more of a celebratory dress," Graddy said of the fiery second gown, compared to the floaty white number that Wu said was meant to resemble a spirit of hopefulness. And the First Lady's Jimmy Choos for the second inaugural outfit have a teeny, tiny kitten heel compared to her heels from the first inauguration. Maybe because she knew how much dancing she would have to do this time around.


· The National Museum of American History's First Ladies exhibit [Official Site]
· STOP EVERYTHING NOW: Michelle Obama Got Highlights [Racked]
· 360 Degrees of Michelle Obama's Jason Wu Inauguration Gown [Racked]