It’s the 20th of January 2013, the eve of another Inauguration day which will officially set off President Obama’s 2nd term in office. In 2009, around this time, a good friend of mine named Harry, and I were in Washington DC.
I brought the Obama dress that I made there to fit Amber Lee Ettinger (AKA Obama Girl), a beautiful model from Hawaii. A day before Obama’s 2009 Inauguration, I got in touch with Bare Political, the production company she acted for on Youtube. She was coined the Obama super girl actress.  I got in contact with the head of the company and told them that I would be delighted to have her wear the Obama Gown in Washington. Someone  responded and invited me to Washington to meet with them under the inaugural tent.  I hopped on the Amtrak train from Penn Station, Manhattan to DC, I knew nothing about Washington DC or where to find the Inaugural tent. I had one thing in mind though, to put that gown  on Amber Lee Ettinger. Luckily Harry was there to show me around. When I got to the tent, they were all excited to see the gown. She put it on and got a photo shoot done in the Oval office under the tent. She was amazed at how beautiful it looked on her.On January 20, 2013, I was  back in Washington again with the dress, this time looking for some important signatures. I did hope to attend the Hip Hop inauguration ballI where most of the celebrities were. Since I am a tailor, I knew quite a few of them would have recognized me but I was a little iffy about the five hundred dollar ticket price so I declined. I got to eat the next day, ya know what I mean?On the other hand I could not resist joining the millions of people there but I realized I made a huge mistake; I did not bring my model  with me.  Finding a model locally in DC was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. The people I approached had no interest in modeling the Obama gown even though they look like models. They made me wish I was in New York. The  difference between New York and other States is that in New York, everyone is a model in their own right. People in New York are not that  skeptical when it comes to fashion. Some New Yorkers would have stripped right there in the streets and jumped into the Obama gown but not in Washington. There you have to search harder to find a model.

The trip to Washington was a bit pricey during the Inauguration phase, one hundred and  fifty eight dollars one way on the Amtrak train and the same to return. I arrived there on Sunday the 20th of January  2013 around 7pm,  It was like I knew the place.  I took the local train from Union Station to Gallery Place, walked around a bit then chartered a bike ride to the W Hotel. I went there because I was told by someone that the W Hotel was the best place for me to get a celebrity signature on the Obama Gown. I asked  the chinese concierge to allow me to speak with the manager but she insisted on hearing what I had to say. I showed her a picture of Amber Lee Ettinger in the Obama gown then asked her,  if  I booked one of their hotel rooms for one night if  they would let me put a model to stand in the corner of the lobby for a  few hours.  She told me no, they would not allow anyone to take pictures there. I told  her that I should have known better, I’ve heard that before, then I asked her, do you like the dress at least? Her response was, I have no opinion about your dress, then she looked away.  I was in shock. Come on Washington where was the Obama sprit?

I then went to the Grand Slam bar and restaurant at the Hyatt hotel where I stayed with a friend. My friend was there for one night only then left the States real early before the flow of celebrators arrived in the city for the inauguration. I set my alarm clock for 8am.  At 8am, I was on my own. I had no friends in Washington DC. The dress was too tall for me to wear plus I had  a jumbo bag. I had no mannequins so it was really difficult for me to display the Gown.  At 9am, I made the ultimate decision to head back to New York. I was a little sad and my cousin Keisha called to find out where I was. She encouraged me to find a model quick, at the time she was watching  the excitement on television but I was already in transit. I arrived at 42nd Street at 2PM. I hurried home to watch the inauguration on television.

I congratulate Jason Wu! Many of us emerging designers who has been working really hard over the years would have liked that opportunity. Keep it up Jason Wu. I hope in time we all get the recognition we deserve. I believe once there is life there is hope. Michelle Obama really did shine in that red Inaugural gown.

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Jennifer Nnamani
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