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Inside Politics
Inside Politics

The politics of inauguration fashion

By Bill Schneider
CNN Political Unit

Oscar de la Renta
Badgley Mischka
Laura Bush

(CNN) -- Every inauguration involves a big race behind the scenes. The results were announced this week. And the winners made a political statement.

In fact, they win the political Play of the Week.

"Who are you wearing?"

You hear that question every year at the Academy Awards, and you hear it, asked more politely, every four years at inaugural time in Washington.

The answer is right there on the White House Web site -- an Oscar de la Renta evening gown for Mrs. Bush. What does this mean for a designer?

"What we see at Saks 5th Avenue is an immediate uptick in the interest of a designer that is involved with this kind of event," said Michael Fink, women's senior fashion director, Saks 5th Avenue.

What kind of statement is Laura Bush making by wearing Oscar de la Renta?

"She's very, you know, stepping into the footsteps of some very important society ladies that wear Oscar's dresses," says Phillip Bloch, actor/celebrity stylist. "So I think that she's really coming out and saying, 'I'm fashionable yet I'm chic.'"

Is the first lady making a political statement? Oscar de la Renta designed Hillary Clinton's inaugural gown. Sounds like something bipartisan is going on here.

The first daughters' gowns are by Badgley Mischka, a favorite with Hollywood starlets.

"The girls are right on in terms of the trends of young, sexy, body conscious," said Fink.

The Badgley Mischka team has dressed J. Lo and and Winona Ryder.

What kind of statement are Barbara and Jenna Bush making?

"It shows that they're stepping up to be first daughters. They're not the beer-drinking, running around, party girls that we thought of maybe the first time around," said Bloch.

Aren't those dresses kind of, um, revealing?

"I don't think we'll see any wardrobe malfunctions," added Bloch.

That's a relief, because then we might have to take back this week's political Play of the Week.

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