As inaugural fever revs up in the US, I thought of the first inauguration I remember, that of Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. The First Lady's ballgown, as usual, captured the public's attention, but Mamie Doud Eisenhower inspired more than look-alike dresses.
The gown's colour, "Mamie Pink" entered the psyche as one of the defining hues of the American 1950s.
At age five, I remember nothing of the actual event, but for decades we lived with the shade that captivated my mother. Dad was a Stevenson man all the way, but he bowed to Mom's taste in decor. She was renovating the house, so we got a Mamie Pink-tiled bathroom with matching fixtures. Another bathroom was done in a discreet gray that Dad called "Adlai Gray", and the third in an equally-'50s seafoam that went nameless.
That gown, by Nettie Rosenstein of New York, of silk finished with over 2,000 rhinestones, would look beautiful worn today.
Mrs. Eisenhower adored pretty dresses, was game for striking accessories, and had a rather daring eye. Look at this hat she wore to the swearing-in ceremony!
She did have one unfortunate style signature, very short bangs. To this day, I tell mostly uncomprehending hairdressers "don't make me look like Mamie Eisenhower". Apparently she had advice about her 'do, but just ignored it, and kept that style for sixty years.
Mamie aged very graciously; I think she looked best in her senior years, when she often wore turbans and bold jewelry.
I may make it a mission, when I am 70, to bring back the turban; think of the earrings you can wear!