First lady fashion in the spotlight at diplomatic soiree
Washington’s diplomatic community gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the fashion of first spouses across the world, and the designers that dress them.
“It’s very important what you dress, it’s the first thing we see on somebody, and it has an impact for us. It’s either a thumbs up or thumbs down,” said Jan Du Plain, who was on the First Fashion Gala host committee and wore an elegant white gown to the event.
“Particularly in the world of diplomacy, it is so important not to make mistakes with what you’re wearing.”
The nonprofit group Diplomacy and Fashion organized the event at the Conrad Hotel, which was hosted by Indira Gumarova, the wife of Czech Republic Ambassador to the U.S. Hynek Kmoníček.
Upon arriving guests sipped champagne and cocktails and could have their pictures taken in a small red-carpet area or mingle around an exhibition of fashion of former and current first spouses from around the world.
The items included the Chanel dress of France’s first lady Brigitte Macron, the shoes and dress of former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos, and the dress of former first lady of the U.S. Edith Wilson.
“Bringing these dresses in from these different countries and governments was a herculean effort on her part,” Du Plain said of Gumarova.
Following cocktail hour, guests were seated at tables around the runway, with each given a gift bag filled with perfumes and skincare products.
Dinner started with an heirloom carrot soup as an opera singer performed two arias.
After the main course — pappardelle pasta with smoked tomato, mushrooms and cashew ricotta; or either grilled Amish chicken or wild isle salmon, both of which came served with a russet potato puree and poached summer squash — was the main event, a fashion show featuring the work of designers who have dressed their countries’ first spouses.
The U.S designer was Naeem Khan, who has dressed former first lady Michelle Obama.
Other designers included South African designer Fred Eboka, who dressed the first lady of South Africa Dr. Tshepo Motsepe; Qatari designer Haya Al Adsani, who dresses Moza bint Nasser, the former first lady of Qatar; Guatemalan designer Anita Lara and Czech designer Tatiana Kováříková.
Gumarova, who is not a designer but has advised Czech first ladies on how to dress over the years, said it’s not like styling other clients.
“It’s so different because you have to incorporate, you know, not only the size or the style but also the culture, the colors, the religion, and also what is appropriate and what is not. So, all these rituals kind of go together in one dress” said Gumarova.
“It’s not typical for fashionista or for celebrity,” she added.
The event raised more than $100,000 for Diplomacy and Fashion to support undergraduates studying either fashion or diplomacy.