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Fashion Parade Continues at State Dinner

Opting for a key color of the two countries’ flags, both first ladies stuck to blue: Samantha Cameron in Alessandra Rich and Michelle Obama in Marchesa.

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: President Obama presided over the largest state dinner of his tenure thus far on Wednesday night when he and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted more than 360 guests to fete this week’s Stateside visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha. The two first ladies continued their week-long fashion duel, with Cameron in a blue print Alessandra Rich design and Obama in a midnight blue Marchesa gown. The latter dress may have been a nod to the spirit of the occasion as the New York-based line is the work of two Brits: Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. The guest list ran a transatlantic gamut of notables with Carey Mulligan, Sir Richard Branson, and Northern Ireland-born golf phenom Rory McIlroy all in attendance, as well as two “Downton Abbey” regulars: Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern. George Clooney, who was in Washington and met with the President earlier in the day about his war relief efforts in Sudan, was seen chatting up Michelle Obama and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.

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After making their entrance, each head of state gave a roughly 10-minute speech that touched on the long relationship between the two countries, as well as their more recent history, such as their combined support of the Libyan revolution. The previous night, both leaders had taken in an NCAA basketball game, and Cameron used his remarks to praise the two first ladies: “The truth is, we have to have a guys’ night out because so often we are completely overshadowed by our beautiful wives.”

This story first appeared in the March 16, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

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