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Mrs. Bush Donates Inaugural Gown to Smithsonian Institution

January 9, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Barbara Bush donated her inaugural gown to the Smithsonian Institution on Tuesday, thanking designer Arnold Scaasi and her hairdresser for making ″me feel like I looked good″ despite eye and thyroid ailments.

″Everybody knows I’ve had a dumb year with pop eyes and all sorts of weird things,″ she said, referring to the symptoms of the immune system disorder she has called Graves’ disease.

″Without my hairdresser, my precious Mr. Scaasi, and other friends who made me feel like I looked good anyway, it would have been a different year,″ she said.

Mrs. Bush made the formal presentation of her sapphire blue Scaasi gown on her seventh consecutive day of radiation treatments to combat the eye irritation and double vision resulting from Graves’ disease.

During the presentation at the Smithshonian’s National Museum of American History, Mrs. Bush’s eyes looked reddish, as they sometimes have during the past several months.

However, she appeared upbeat and relaxed, dressed in a striking purple knit dress by Scaasi.

The 64-year-old first lady joked that the classic face on the mannequin wearing her velvet and satin inaugural gown ″looks exactly like me.″

The mannequin’s coiffure, like Mrs. Bush’s, was done by Yves Graux, the Washington hairdresser who styles her thick, white hair.

″She’s a woman who knows what she wants,″ Graux said of Mrs. Bush.

Mrs. Bush is undergoing 10 consecutive radiation treatments, in one 10- minute session each day, to cure the eye ailment that drugs so far have failed to improve.

Graux said it is not anticipated she will lose any hair from her radiation.

Her press secretary, Anna Perez, said the first lady ″feels fine,″ although it won’t be known for some time whether the radiation is working.

Mrs. Bush was diagnosed early last year with Graves’ disease, which initially attacked her thyroid, making it overproductive and causing weight loss. The thyroid condition was alleviated with a radioactive treatment and drugs, but the eye symptoms have persisted.

She wore the gown she donated to the Smithsonian’s First Ladies Collection to the Inaugural Ball when President Bush took office last January and then to a formal diplomtic reception.

″I love this dress and I really hate to give it up,″ she said.

Scaasi said he has duplicated the dress, in different colors, for sale in ready-to-wear collections. ″I asked the White House if they would mind, and they said they wouldn’t,″ he told reporters.

Mrs. Bush also donated her shoes, evening bag and the Kenneth J. Lane triple-strand of fake pearls that she wore with the gown.

The dress will be on display in a museum gallery with those of former first ladies Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter and Nancy Reagan. Gowns of other first ladies also are part of the display.

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