LAURA’S THEME

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Michael Faircloth had a hunch that soon-to-be First Lady Laura Bush would go red for her inaugural gown. And he was right.
In fact, it took just moments for Bush to say yes when she saw the sketch of the Chantilly lace (Solstiss), silk georgette (Calamo) and Swarovski beaded evening column with a discreetly scooped neckline, recalled Faircloth from his design studio here in an interview with WWD late on Wednesday.
The designer was fresh from a quick trip to Austin, where he presented the sketches to Bush. “I originally suggested a sky-blue silk georgette fabric to layer under the red Chantilly lace, but Laura felt that it looked lavender,” he said. “And that definitely wouldn’t work. So we went with red all the way.”
All the way, that is, except for the evening coat that Bush will wear when departing into the chilly Washington night after the inaugural ball. Faircloth now plans to line Bush’s red silk satin evening coat with a sky-blue silk satin. And it also will feature a matching Swarovski crystal vine and floral beading like that on the dress.
Faircloth estimated that it will take three women working at least 100 hours to bead the inaugural gown. The team of beaders is led by Stella Ruatta of Artistic Handbeading, a company based in Hollywood. Ruatta handbeaded both of Nancy Reagan’s inaugural gowns that were designed by James Galanos. As reported, Galanos is Faircloth’s favorite designer. Red, of course, is also a color closely associated with Reagan.
For the swearing-in ceremony, Bush plans to don Faircloth’s peacock wool boucle suit with espresso-colored stitching down the front and a blue overcoat trimmed with espresso camel hair. The suit features a tunic-style top that zips up the back and a softly pleated neckline.
Faircloth intends to hand-deliver Bush’s inaugural wardrobe to the family’s ranch in South Texas before Bush departs for Washington. “That way it will be even more closely guarded by the Secret Service,” he said.
“I know Laura and her taste really well,” the designer added. “It’s all about classics and interpreting them for her style. She’s an extremely intelligent woman with lots of self-confidence, and she knows what works for her. And I think that personal style will continue to evolve after she goes to the White House.”

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