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Song Stylist Nancy Wilson Donates Two Gowns to Smithsonian

April 21, 2011
Nancy Wilson, renowned as much for her stylish image as for her song stylings, has long been a supporter of education and the arts. These interests converge with her donation of two designer gowns to the Smithsonian, which operates the world’s most comprehensive set of jazz programs and its National Museum of American History—home to jazz collections that include 100,000 pages of Duke Ellington’s unpublished music and objects such as Ella Fitzgerald’s famous red dress, Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet, John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” manuscript and Benny Goodman’s clarinet.

“I designed this dress for Nancy with an expression of elegance and timelessness,” explains Angela Dean, the creator of the silver-grey silk velvet wrap-dress with poet sleeves that Wilson wore to the 49th Annual Grammy Awards February 11, 2007. That day Associated Press photographs captured her arrival on the red carpet and her acceptance of the award for best jazz vocal album for “Turned To Blue.” This was Wilson’s third Grammy Award.

In October 2010, Wilson appeared in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center wearing a strapless “Trumpet” gown in champagne silk/wool, centered with hand-draped embroidered tulle in contrast black, fully lined in black silk charmuse with a matching tulle bolero. This was couture made to measure for Wilson by b michael. “I grew up listening to Nancy Wilson and when the world brought us together it was magical for me as a fashion designer to have as muse the Iconic Song Stylist,” said michael. “Nancy has a sound and a motion that is visual and inspires the epitome of glamor, sophistication and sensuality... all of which I use to create her gowns... I recall the white beaded off the shoulder gown worn on stage at Lincoln Center... Nancy gave us Jazz Goddess!”

Wilson will officially present the gowns to the National Museum of American History and sign the Deed of Gift at the conclusion of her concert at Strathmore April 22. On hand will be Brent D. Glass, director of the museum, and John Edward Hasse, the museum’s curator of American Music.

“With her versatility, range of intensity, respect for the lyrics, and impeccable musicianship, Nancy Wilson has led a long and remarkable career of interpreting American popular song and jazz. She is one of the singular song stylists of our era and we are pleased to add two of her gowns to the National Collections,” said Hasse.