First Lady Michelle Obama wowed attendees at the state dinner on Friday night to honor Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, with her choice of a stunning Vera Wang dress. The black-tie shindig was attended by big names in diplomacy, the business world, and Hollywood. On Saturday though, much of the talk about the the dinner surrounded Michelle Obama’s black off-the-shoulder mermaid gown. “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,” writes the Washington Post’s Helena Andrews-Dyer.
Social media quickly exploded with praise for the first lady. And Wang took to Twitter to express how happy she was to have been chosen for the occasion.
It was more than a great look. “More important than the color of the gown, its luxurious fabric or its body-conscious fit, was its lineage,” writes the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan, who describes Obama’s choice as a “diplomatic clarification.” There was a big kerfuffle in the fashion world after the 2011 China state dinner, when Obama chose a red gown from British label Alexander McQueen. The dress led to lots of praise in the press, but it stunned American designers, who couldn’t help but wonder why the first lady wouldn’t go with one of their own for such an important occasion.
Obama wasn’t the only one to get lots of attention for her look on Friday night. China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, known as a fashion icon in her native country, wore a “cerulean blue gown with trumpet sleeves” that matched her husband’s pocket square. The Associated Press notes the first lady only wears Chinese designers and the accessories and outfits she wears always quickly sell out.