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First Lady Jill Biden Buys Oscar de la Renta Dress for State Dinner, Naomi Biden Takes a Loaner From Bernadette Label

DESIGNER QUOTA: The White House pulled out all the stops for Wednesday night’s state dinner in honor of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden welcomed a crowd that included Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, actor Robert De Niro, Bill and Hillary Clinton, JPMorgan Chase chief executive officer Jamie Dimon, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, Planned Parenthood’s leader Cecille Richards and Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

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State dinners are more about diplomacy than anything culinary, and Wednesday’s occasion was no exception. Guests were seated for dinner amidst purple, pink and blue hydrangeas — native to both countries — and glass and silk butterflies. As the first lady explained in a pre-dinner preview Tuesday with the media, the decor was meant to be a reminder of how the U.S. and Japan “navigate the winds of change” — together — as partners in peace and prosperity.

While the men kept things traditional with tuxedos, several of the high-profile women donned designer labels. FLOTUS sported a fall 2024 sapphire ombré Art Nouveau crystal embroidered gown from Oscar de la Renta that she purchased. Her eldest granddaughter Naomi took another route — borrowing a dress from the buzzy label Bernadette.

Lawyer Naomi Biden and her husband Peter Neal arrive for a State Dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, at the Booksellers Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Drew Angerer / AFP) (Photo by DREW ANGERER/AFP via Getty Images)
Naomi Biden and her husband Peter Neal arrive for a State Dinner in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, at the Booksellers Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 10. Photo by Drew Angerer / AFP

The late designer Oscar de la Renta had a long track record of dressing first ladies through the years, and the successors at his namesake company — Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia — have carried on that tradition. The fact that FLOTUS wore the American brand for such a monumental outing is significant for the designer company that has its headquarters and atelier in New York City. The first lady has previously met Kim and Garcia, who immigrated to the U.S. and have each become American citizens.

Biden purchased the gown that had been made to a tee with her measurements. Unlike during the Obama administration, when designers often hoped, but did not know for certain, whether their creations for Michelle Obama would be worn for key appearances until the first couple ventured out, the de la Renta team knew in advance that they had made the final cut for Wednesday’s state dinner.

Jill Biden also opted for Oscar de la Renta for the first state dinner that she and the president hosted in 2022 for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte. Oscar de la Renta has upped its intergenerational appeal in recent years, thanks partially to other VIP clients like Ariana Grande.

FLOTUS wasn’t the only family member at the event that made an in-the-know fashion choice. One of her granddaughters, Naomi, turned up in a cherry blossom-printed dress by the Belgian label Bernadette. Fashion editors and insiders have been buzzing about the Antwerp-based company, which was started by the stylish mother-and-daughter duo Bernadette and Charlotte de Geyter. Naomi’s dress was chosen for her by the de Geyters and it was “loaned to her specifically for this event,” a company spokeswoman said.

Shoppers can still find the $960 Minnie Floral Cape Gown that the First Granddaughter wore since it remains in stock at Moda Operandi. However, inventory for the blush-colored dress had already decreased in the hours after Biden was photographed wearing the dress at the state dinner.

In the fall of 2022, Naomi Biden turned the spotlight on Ralph Lauren, by wearing a custom Ralph Lauren Collection gown made of Chantilly lace with hand-placed organza petals along the bodice and cascading into the skirt for her South Lawn wedding ceremony at the White House. That evening she lightened up her look with a strapless Reem Acra ivory silk Mikado dress for the White House reception and cake-cutting ceremony. Her artist father Hunter was not at the White House for Wednesday night’s festivities.

Vice President Kamala Harris upped the fashion quota Wednesday wearing a shimmery Valentino ensemble (her aide told the pool reporter), and she and her husband Doug Emhoff took the media-populated route, which they don’t typically do.

White House State Dinner for Japan Hosted By Joe & Jill Biden Fetes Star-Studded Guest List: All the Looks

US President Joe Biden (2nd R), First Lady Jill Biden (R), Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (2nd L) and his wife Yuko Kishida pose during a photo opportunity on the occasion of the State Dinner on the Grand Staircase of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden head into the Blue Room while hosting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a state dinner in the East Room of the White House on April 10, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden welcomed Kishida for an official state visit where the two leaders announced new agreements on technology and strengthening military and economic partnerships against Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 10: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his wife Yuko Kishida walk down the Grand Staircase at the White House while being hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for a state dinner on April 10, 2024 in Washington, DC. Biden welcomed Prime Minister Kishida for an official state visit, as the two leaders discussed strengthening their military partnership and announced new agreements on technology as they look to defend against Chinese aggression in the region. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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At Wednesday night’s state dinner, First Daughter Ashley Biden told reporters that she was wearing Reem, according to a White House pool report. All in all, a few of the more high-powered guests were short on words, when peppered with questions from the press pen. Amazon’s Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sanchez (unmissable in a strapless, sheer red bustier dress) did not engage with reporters. Sanchez reportedly chose a frock from the U.A.E.-based eveningwear resource Rasario. Executives at the company did not respond immediately to a request for comment, nor did founder Rasida Lakoba respond to a DM seeking comment Thursday morning.

Apple’s Cook ignored a question about any plans to donate to the Biden campaign. One of Biden’s more ardent public supporters, the multi-Oscar winner De Niro sailed in with his girlfriend Tiffany Chen. Asked how he felt about the 2024 election, De Niro responded, “What do you think?” and kept moving, according to the pool report.

The Clintons were glad to be back in their former residence. When asked by a reporter what it was like to be back, Bill Clinton offered “Great, especially for this.” After a reporter pointed to the Hillary Clinton portrait hanging nearby, the Clintons smiled when they saw it, according to the pool report.

Launch Gallery: White House State Dinner for Japan Hosted By Joe & Jill Biden Fetes Star-Studded Guest List: All the Looks

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