Stunning and Symbolic First Lady Inaugural Fashions Through the Years

PHOTO:President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive at the Freedom Ball on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. PlayPolaris
WATCH Melania Trump Using Fashion to Put 'America First'

Melania Trump took the stage with her husband President Donald Trump at Friday night's inaugural balls dressed in an off-shoulder, white evening gown that set her apart from other members of the Trump and Pence families dressed in gold, red and blue gowns.

Mrs. Trump's gown was designed in collaboration with Hervé Pierre, the former creative director of Carolina Herrera. The floor-length gown, featuring a thin red ribbon as a belt and above-the-knee slit, was on display as the president and first lady danced to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" at their first inaugural ball.

"It was easy because she knows about construction and she has a very specific style, so our collaboration for that gown was very organic," Pierre said of Mrs. Trump in a statement to ABC News. "She was very specific about the lines of the dress."

Pierre, who also dressed former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton in his previous roles with Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera, said of working with Mrs. Trump, "It was an extraordinary project. Mrs. Trump was so kind and she knows fashion."

The first lady chose American designer Ralph Lauren for the "sky blue" suit she donned for her husband's swearing in and other inauguration festivities earlier in the day.

"There was a lot of speculation that she would be dressed by a European designer," Joe Zee, editor-in-chief of Yahoo Style, told ABC News. "The fact that she chose one of the biggest American designers could open the door for more designers to dress Melania, and could set the tone for her time as first lady, just as Michelle Obama did by choosing up-and-coming designers."

He added, "Overall, the fashion world has been extremely divided over dressing Melania because of the divisive rhetoric of her husband, something that we've never seen before," he added. "All designers have been honored to dress the first lady, regardless of party affiliation."

First lady inaugural fashion has helped define eras in womenswear, giving an incoming FLOTUS a chance to set the tone for her White House years from day one. Take a look at some of the most stunning and symbolic first lady fashions throughout the years.

Jackie Kennedy

1961: Kennedy chose an elegant off-white, sleeveless chiffon gown with matching cape by designer Ethel Frankau, the director of Bergdorf Goodman's custom salon for more than 50 years.

PHOTO: President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy are seen as they left the White House to attend a series of inaugural balls.Bettmann Archive
President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy are seen as they left the White House to attend a series of inaugural balls.

Nancy Reagan

1981: Reagan wore a white, beaded one-shouldered number by U.S. designer James Galanos.

PHOTO: The inaugural photo of President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan was taken in the Red Room at the White House in Washington, Jan 20, 1981.Michael Evans/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
The inaugural photo of President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan was taken in the Red Room at the White House in Washington, Jan 20, 1981.

Barbara Bush

1989: This FLOTUS wore a royal blue gown with an asymmetrically draped silk satin skirt for the 1989 inaugural balls. The dress’ designer, Arnold Scaasi, noted at the time that Bush was suddenly “the most glamorous grandmother in the United States.”

PHOTO: President George H.W. Bush and wife, Barbara dance at the inaugural ball at the Pension Building in Washington, Jan. 20, 1989.Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
President George H.W. Bush and wife, Barbara dance at the inaugural ball at the Pension Building in Washington, Jan. 20, 1989.

Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush

For their husband’s first terms, both Clinton and Bush opted for lesser-known designers.

1993: Clinton donned a long-sleeved purple gown by designer Sarah Phillips.

PHOTO: President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton appear at the MTV Ball at the Washington Convention Center, Jan. 20, 1993. Shayna Brennan/AP Photo
President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton appear at the MTV Ball at the Washington Convention Center, Jan. 20, 1993.

2001: Bush stayed true to her Southern roots, going with a dress by native-Texan Michael Faircloth.

PHOTO: George W. Bush and Laura Bush smile as they are welcomed by supporters at the Salute to Heroes and Veterans Banquet in Washington, Jan. 20, 2001.Doug Mills/AP Photo
George W. Bush and Laura Bush smile as they are welcomed by supporters at the Salute to Heroes and Veterans Banquet in Washington, Jan. 20, 2001.

For their second inaugural balls, however, both women turned to the same man, Oscar de la Renta, for these shimmering gowns.

1997:

PHOTO: President Clinton and Hillary Clinton dance at the New England Ball, Jan. 20, 1997, in Washington.J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
President Clinton and Hillary Clinton dance at the New England Ball, Jan. 20, 1997, in Washington.

2005:

PHOTO: President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush attend The Constitution Ball, Jan. 20, 2005.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush attend The Constitution Ball, Jan. 20, 2005.

Michelle Obama

2009: The FLOTUS wore this one-shouldered white, silk chiffon gown with organza flowers and Swarovski crystal embellishments to the 2009 inaugural balls.

Jason Wu, who created the frock, said the design was meant to symbolize hope for a new generation.

“It’s bold. It’s dreamlike. It’s classic, all at the same time,” Wu said on “Good Morning America” at the time. “[It’s] all the qualities I consider Michelle Obama to have.”

PHOTO: President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, right, are introduced at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington, Jan. 20, 2009.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo
President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, right, are introduced at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball in Washington, Jan. 20, 2009.

2013: For Obama’s second term, she chose a halter-neck ruby red chiffon dress.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at the Inaugural Ball at the Walter Washington Convention Center, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive at the Inaugural Ball at the Walter Washington Convention Center, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington.

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