Fashionable first ladies steal the show at White House state dinner

US President Barack Obama, from right, waves as he stands for photographs with Xi Jinping, China's president, US First Lady Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan, China's first lady, on the North Portico of the White House during a state visit in Washington
US President Barack Obama, from right, waves as he stands for photographs with Xi Jinping, China's president, US First Lady Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan, China's first lady, on the North Portico of the White House during a state visit in Washington, DC, US, on Sept 25, 2015. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

US and Chinese first ladies Michelle Obama and Peng Liyuan quite rightly stole the sartorial spotlight with their choice of evening wear during a White House state dinner held for China President Xi Jinping on Friday (Sept 25).

Mrs Obama, in particular, was a hit on social media with her black, off-the-shoulder mermaid gown by famed Chinese-American designer Vera Wang.

The 51-year-old, a dazzling presence alongside husband and US President Barack Obama, succeeded in appeasing local designers while also scoring diplomatic points with the Chinese thanks to her sartorial savvy.


Barack Obama having his bowtie adjusted by wife Michelle as they await the arrival of China President Xi Jinping and his wife for the White House state dinner. PHOTO: AFP

The Washington Post's Helena Andrews-Dyer was full of compliments for Obama's ensemble and her overall image: "The first lady's look - hair gathered in that vintage sultry side sweep popular on red carpets and the form-fitting frock's silhouette - hearkened back to old Hollywood glamour."

Compiling a photo gallery of Obama's past fashion choices at state dinners, The New York Times noted that Obama made it a point to don gowns by designers whose "backgrounds and cultures reflect the countries being honoured".

Fashion site Popsugar also hailed Obama's dress as one of the most elegant creations she had ever worn, while Hollywood Life raved about how she "combined demure and bombshell" with the gown and side-swept, glamorous curls.


Michelle Obama welcoming Peng Liyuan to the White House. PHOTO: AFP

Peng, 52, was no slouch in the fashion stakes either, living up to her reputation as a Chinese style icon in an embellished cerulean silk number with trumpet sleeves.

Robin Givhan, writing for the Washington Post, also noted that Peng's gown, together with her husband Xi's matching pocket square, "provided the only splashes of colour in the diplomatic tableau".


Michelle Obama escorting Peng Liyuan to the state dinner. PHOTO: AFP