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Inaugural Dresses Show Style of Colorado’s First Ladies


Inaugural Dresses Show Style of Colorado’s First Ladies

From The Colorado Statesman:


At the outskirts of downtown Denver, at 12th and Lincoln to be exact, rests a jewel of three-year higher learning — the Art Institute of Colorado, herein known as the AIC. Accredited by the national higher learning commission, the AIC has an extensive fashion retail management and design department with about 200 students enrolled. The program grants Bachelors of Arts degrees, and from the looks of their facilities and design work, well, all I can say is “move over Michael Kors!” Some of these budding designers could go straight to “Project Runway” without passing sew. The win by Denver designer Mondo didn’t hurt the confidence of these baby fashionistas.


Their latest accomplishment is the creation of an exhibition of inaugural gowns worn by the spouses of some of Colorado’s most colorful and influential governors. The new History Colorado Center lent the students four gowns and a collection of evening dresses. Students took it from there, creating the marketing campaign, developing signage, and researching the historical context of each piece. They dubbed the exhibit “Constitutionally Classic.”


Here’s a look at several of the inaugural dresses, but don’t miss the rest of the gowns, 14 in all.


40th Gov. Bill Owens (1999-2007) — Wife Frances chose a faux two-piece gown with a silk top embellished with gold metallic flowers. The gold silk and metallic thread embellished skirt flares out from the natural waistline with the help of an attached petticoat made out of net. Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman


33rd Gov. Daniel I. J. Thornton (1951-1955) and wife Jessie Willock — Mrs. Willock got her light blue satin gown at I Magnin, a specialty goods luxury department store and a destination for the impeccably dressed. She finished the outfit with a fur coat by Stanley Furs in Denver. Photo by Marie Dennis/The Colorado Statesman


Style Matters can see a parallel between this exhibit and the Madeleine Albright pin collection displayed a few months ago at the Denver Art Museum. One of the seldom mentioned benefits of Madeleine Albright’s pins was its educational value. While busy admiring the variety of brooches, viewers also absorbed a bit of history. Every pin was connected to an historical event that occurred during Albright’s tenure as Secretary of State under Bill Clinton.


The same could be said for the Constitutionally Classic exhibit. While appreciating the beauty of the gowns, museum-goers might just ingest some Colorado history as well.


Exhibit Information
Constitutionally Classic
John Jellico Gallery
The Art Institute of Colorado
Enter at the Lincoln entrance
Through Dec. 2, 2012
Hours: M-F 10-8; Sat. and Sun. 9-5
For more information:
Admission: Free


Judie Schwartz, AKA Style Matters, is the co-author of two best-selling books on the best places to shop in Colorado. Called “A Fashion-Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond,” the books are available at Schwartz presents image seminars to corporations on the importance of a business casual wardrobe and entertains conventioneers with talks on how to look great on a budget. She is also a wardrobe consultant. Schwartz has one husband, three children, no pets and small closets. She can be reached at:
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