STYLE BY WAY OF CUBA: President Barack Obama’s historic arrival at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport Sunday afternoon had all the usual — a cheering crowd, a tarmac welcoming committee, a Secret Service brigade and, unfortunately, umbrellas. But the light afternoon rain didn’t dampen the First Couple’s ebullience nor that of their daughters Sasha and Malia.
Standing beside the President, First Lady Michelle Obama wore a Carolina Herrera navy, red and white floral print sleeveless A-line dress. Their arrival marked the first time a U.S. president had visited Cuba in nearly 90 years. (Later in the day the First Lady paired the look with a berry-colored cardigan.)
The First Lady also opted for a Carolina Herrera dress to greet Pope Francis when he first arrived at Andrews Air Force in September. Even more dramatic was the sweeping blue gown the designer created for FLOTUS to wear to the 2014 state dinner in honor of French President François Hollande.
Herrera was unavailable to comment Monday but she has been vocal about her patriotism over the years. Herrera, who has a CH Carolina Herrera boutique in Washington, D.C., has also been bipartisan in dressing several first ladies. The Venezuelan-born designer became an American citizen in September 2009, after 28 years of living in the U.S. At that time, she said, “I have been here for many years, and I love this country very much. I love New York and everything about America. It was very emotional for me.”
Last fall she was named one of the 2015 Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery honorees along with Aretha Franklin, Maya Lin and Henry “Hank” Aaron.
As for what the First Lady will wear to the state dinner in Havana with Cuban President Raúl Castro, Cuban-American designers Isabel Toledo and Narciso Rodriguez may have the inside track. Obama wore a Toledo-designed dress and coat to her husband’s first inauguration and she has worn Rodriguez designs several times, including the marigold dress she wore to this year’s State of the Union address.