US President Donald J. Trump (2R) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) welcome Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison (2L) and his wife, Jenny Morrison (L), at the North Portico of the White House for a state dinner in Washington, DC, USA, 20 September 2019. The occasion marks the second state visit of Donald Trump's presidency.President Trump welcomes Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to White House for a state dinner, Washington, USA - 20 Sep 2019

GARDEN PARTY: Geopolitics are undeniably stormy, but Friday night’s clear-as-can-be weather was well-suited for the Trumps’ outdoors state dinner for Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife Jennifer.

First Lady Melania Trump appeared to keep things easy-breezy, sporting an aqua-colored chiffon dress designed by Gilles Mendel, the creative force behind the J. Mendel label. With wave-like effects in the chiffon, the flowy creation was in step with the Rose Garden setting. Instead of welcoming guests to the State Dining Room in the White House, the first couple welcomed guests al fresco. FLOTUS appeared to sail through the proceedings in patent leather heels from Christian Louboutin. The prime minister’s wife wore a navy column dress with velour and sequins from Australian designer Carla Zampatti, who also created the black ensemble she wore for the official welcome earlier in the day.

The Australian-friendly dinner crowd included Fox’s Lachlan Murdoch, Marvel Entertainment’s Isaac Perlmutter and Chevron’s Michael Wirth, as well as various politicians and Cabinet members like Kellyanne Conway and Betsy DeVos. The arrivals coincided with news that the U.S. would be sending more military troops to Saudi Arabia following the recent attacks on oil facilities in response to Iranian actions.

Unlike the ice blue-colored dress from the Australian label Scanlan Theodore that FLOTUS wore for Friday’s official welcome Friday morning, she chose this evening’s look from a New York-based designer.

FLOTUS has worn the J. Mendel label for other prized photo-ops, namely last year’s black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace in the U.S. There, she made a dramatic entrance in a soft yellow chiffon gown for a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the country estate that was Winston Churchill’s birthplace. The color was selected in reverence to Queen Elizabeth II, who is a fan of the soft shade. The international spotlight shines again on Mendel more than a year after he has been quietly rebuilding his company after filing for bankruptcy last year. Just last week he showed his spring 2020 collection during private appointments in the midst of New York Fashion Week.

Diners were seated in the presidential garden that was first redesigned by Bunny Mellon at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy. Seated at tables with ombré linens, floral displays and decor true to Australia’s national colors of green and gold, guests were to dine on sunchoke ravioli, Dover sole and Lady Apple tart with Calvados ice cream. As a hint of bipartisanship, the dinner service will consist of alternating china settings from the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Entertainment was to be provided by the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force including the Navy Band’s Sea Chanters, among other musicians. This marks the Trump administration’s second state dinner following last year‘s one in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte.

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