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First Daughter Jenna Bush’s fashion choices will reflect her Texas roots when she gets married May 10 at the family’s ranch in Crawford, Tex.
At the bride-to-be’s suggestion, Lela Rose has designed seven different knee-length dresses in seven colors inspired by the state’s wildflowers for the 14 members of Bush’s “house party,” a Southern term for attendants.
Each ethereal dress has handmade rosettes and is made of crinkle silk chiffon backed with cotton voile. Rose, whose of-the-moment wedding dresses have been embraced by more directional stores, has created dresses with modern touches such as boatnecks and pocket details — without a strapless style in sight.
Barbara Bush, the maid of honor, who will be standing with her sister during the ceremony, plans to wear a long Lela Rose moonstone-colored shimmery gown with a pretty antique silver belt and a low back. The designer created a similar belt for the attendants.
Barbara Bush’s dress was dyed to match her blue eyes. “It’s really stunning on her,” Rose said.
In the spring, bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, Indian paintbrushes and other wildflowers grow along the state’s highways, thanks largely to Lady Bird Johnson, who championed a nationwide beautification program when Lyndon B. Johnson was president. Her fellow Texan, First Lady Laura Bush, has followed in a similar vein. During a speech last week in Dallas, she said the First Bloom program, a National Park Foundation initiative that she launched in the fall, carries on Lady Bird Johnson’s legacy.
“It will be glorious in Texas at this time of year. It could not be prettier,” said Rose, who grew up in the Lone Star State and has known Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara, since they were young. “Crawford has meant so much to them. Having their wedding in a natural space and mimicking nature seemed very natural.”
Jenna Bush will wear an Oscar de la Renta gown when she weds Henry Hager in an outdoor evening ceremony in front of 200 friends and family members.
The First Family will put the celebration in motion on May 9 with a pre-wedding party.
This story first appeared in the April 16, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Rose said Jenna Bush is taking everything in stride. “She’s very relaxed, easygoing and just so happy,” the designer said. “She has a great group of girls around her and she’s known many of them for years. I think she’s enjoyed every single moment of it.”
Jenna Bush and her attendants have visited Rose’s atelier for fittings and a few even caught the designer’s bridal fashion show on Sunday. The behind-the-scenes meetings with the designer were an extra kick for the women, but Barbara Bush already knew the ins and outs, having worked for Rose as an intern during her undergraduate days at Yale.
The Bush and Rose families have been friendly for years. Jenna Bush and her parents attended Rose’s wedding in Dallas in 1999. Rose’s mother, Deedie, a pillar in the Dallas art and design scene, recommended architect David Heymann to work on the Crawford ranch.
Now that Lela Rose has the attendants squared away for dresses, she needs to figure out what she will wear. “I have no idea. It’s terrible. Whenever I have some sort of black-tie event, I usually decide what to wear right before I leave,” she said.