DESIGNER DECORATIONS: With the holidays closing in, the Obama White House has enlisted the help of a few well-known designers to help deck the halls and the East Wing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Carolina Herrera, Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (who are also co-creative directors for Kenzo) and London-based Duro Olowu have reimagined a historic room with their own trimmings.
Herrera spruced up the China Room with a classic navy plaid that drapes the central table, nearby benches and even the skirt of the holiday tree. Another one of her finishing touches is garland made of fresh evergreen and eucalyptus, and adorned with ornaments that frames the fireplace. Herrera said, “It was a great honor to create the holiday decor for the White House’s China Room. The holidays are my favorite time of year because they are celebrated by all and it’s a joyous time spent with friends and family.”
This year’s New York input included Bryan Rafanelli, who turned up for Wednesday’s press event in the White House with the first lady. The first lady told the crowd, “We also have more than 70,000 ornaments here in this house, 62 trees — a lot of trees — as well as 56 snowmen and snowwomen in the garden, representing every state and territory in the country. And then we’ve got a dog display.”
During her remarks, Obama praised Rafenelli and his team, as well as Lim and Leon, and her “dear friend Duo.” Herrera and her team were also singled out for playing a huge role this year.
Holiday decorating, tree-trimming and festivities are a longstanding tradition at the White House, where the first Christmas tree was set up in the second-floor Oval Room in 1889 by Benjamin Harrison’s administration. Americans have President John Adams’ granddaughter Suzannah to thank for the first White House Christmas party, which was held in her honor in 1800, since she was living with her high-powered grandparents. But it was President Andrew Johnson who showed the children of his household how to really have a ball, organizing an elaborate dinner, dancing, games and an indoor snowball fight made from cotton balls.
Given Opening Ceremony’s eclectic stores and Herrera’s and Olowu’s respective styles, it’s safe to say visitors heading to the White House over the holidays will have extra reason to cheer.