Museum feting first lady, gown designer

Until Kathleen Sandoval came along, never before in Nevada's history had its first lady worn two different gowns to the two inaugural balls - in Las Vegas and in Reno, according a spokeswoman for the Nevada State Museum.

Sandoval and Virginia Vogel, who designed Sandoval's two gowns for the 2011 Nevada inaugural balls, will be honored later this month at the Nevada State Museum.

"Vogel created two different ensembles for Sandoval to wear," museum spokeswoman Felicia Archer said in a statement. "The skirts are the same for each, with subtle jeweled differences, but the bodices and jackets are distinctly different."

Sandoval donated the one she wore in Las Vegas to the museum and is hanging on to the other as a keepsake or to wear on another occasion, Archer said.

The donated dress will go to the museum's Marjorie Russell Clothing and Textile Research Center, where 14 gowns are now preserved, said Jan Loverin, clothing and textile curator.

"We have almost every first lady's dress. We make an effort to collect and preserve these gowns," she said. "We keep them out of the light and only use padded hangers because fibers break over time. Some are stored horizontally."

Sandoval's gowns are made from a fine dupioni silk and hand-beaded by the designer and her students, Loverin said.

Sandoval's designer is a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she is both an artist an a costume designer.

The clothing and textile museum preserves not only gowns of Nevada's first ladies, but other significant pieces such as former Gov. Bob Miller's cowboy boots, state and federal flags, a beaded handbag made for Nevada's admission to the Union, and Chinese embroidered garments.

The public is invited to attend a free reception for the new museum exhibit, "Dress and Designer," from 6 to 6:45 p.m., April 19, at the museum.

A program including a lecture by Vogel will follow in the museum's South Changing Gallery from 6:45 to 8 p.m. For more information, call Loverin at 775-687-6173.


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