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Lauren Sánchez’s state dinner dress ignites red-hot debate over White House fashion

In a city that is typically disdainful of fashion and fraught with partisan tensions, the clothes worn by one high-profile figure to a glitzy White House event seem as polarizing as Washington politics. This sparked a heated debate.

Lauren Sanchez, a former TV host turned philanthropist and fiance of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, wore a ruby ​​red dress last week for a state dinner for Japan. He wore it and caught the attention of the White House. $2,300 rosary corset gown It features a low cut, off-the-shoulder lace and a cinched waist.

This spicy number sparked a political fashion firestorm. Posting on social platform X A photo of Sanchez in revealing clothing has received more than 4.4 million views.

Many social media users were highly critical of Sanchez’s appearance at the state dinner, calling it “totally inappropriate,” “embarrassing,” and “the silliest thing” ever seen at a black-tie White House gala. .

But Kate Bennett, a former fashion editor who focused on first ladies and covered state dinners and countless other events as CNN’s former White House correspondent, said that Sanchez’s burgundy outfit made her look “brand-new.” I gave them props for staying true to theirs.

Bennett said Sanchez’s style is “incredibly sexy and feminine, but she makes no apologies for it.”

“She’s wearing a black tie. Was it the traditional black tie for the White House? No. But maybe people are interested in the chaos in government,” he said. quipped Robin Givan, senior critic for the Washington Post, which won the award.

“Honestly, I think the traditional Washington twist on red dresses and cleavage is kind of funny,” said Givan, a well-known former fashion writer.

Mr Bennett said the attire options for state dinners were “really diverse” and typified the “confused fashion zones” that existed within the capital.

“Some guests lean toward the country and wear certain colors or designer clothes. Others pick something off the rack and rush out of the office to attend a state dinner. I mean, that’s what makes DC fashion DC fashion,” said Bennett, author of “Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography,” published in 2019.

“You’re never really sure, you never really have the time, you never know what other people will wear. And in terms of its style and fashion, it’s different from other cities. It’s a little different,” she said.

“There’s no written protocol, it’s just common sense,” said one East Winger who has helped prepare state dinners for years. “If you have any questions about what that is, please talk to Dr. Manners, but you must use common sense.”

“I can’t say I’ve never shown skin in the White House before, but many would probably choose something else and still be able to make a statement in a gorgeous gown.” said a former White House official.

The Hill has reached out to Sanchez’s representatives for comment.

kelly johnson The stylist who helped me Sanchez’s coordination of the state dinner did not respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Deirdre Clemente, a fashion historian and associate director of the Reed Institute for Public History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, believes that any dress code is “inherently sexist because it regulates women’s bodies. That’s the point,” he said.

“I think her overt sexuality or something really irritates people,” Clemente said of Sanchez, 54.

This isn’t the first time the usually buttoned-up Washington has erupted with chatter and sarcasm as part of a clothing-related controversy.

Back in 1971, Sonia McMahon, the wife of the Australian Prime Minister, made headlines for wearing “the most daring yet classy gown seen at the White House during the Nixon administration” to a state dinner in their honor.

McMahon’s dress, description sydney morning herald It made a statement as “full-length in Regal Cream, thigh-high slit, and continuous side panels filled with flesh-colored material.”

The Australian newspaper’s spouse, the Prime Minister, boasted that he had “put Australia on the American map without saying a word”.

The discussion of couture isn’t just limited to women in Washington. In 2014, then-President Obama famously sparked a heated debate about fashion victimization when he wore a tan suit to a press conference.

Then-Rep. Pete King of New York said at the time that the lawsuit showed a “lack of seriousness” on the part of the commander in chief.

“There is no way that anyone can excuse what the president did yesterday,” King said.

The White House defended Obama’s jacket in a statement released the day after the story broke, saying the president “fully supports the decision he made” to “wear a summer suit.”

Givan said the raised eyebrows over Sanchez’s style, like the drama of President Obama’s tan suit, “says much more about Washington than it does about her.”

“Washington still has this amazing ability to get outraged about things related to fashion,” she said.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) also found himself at the center of a fashion frenzy.

Last September, the Senate passed a bill requiring business attire in the chamber, following bipartisan backlash against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York’s efforts to loosen dress codes.

Mr. Schumer’s move was seen by some as a move to curry favor with Mr. Fetterman, who is known for opting for shorts and a hoodie rather than a suit on Capitol Hill.

Clemente, a historian at the University of Nevada, said the “rules” of fashion are “constantly changing.”

“People get frustrated when the boundaries of where we are allowed to wear something, who is allowed to wear it, and when and in what circumstances we are allowed to wear it change. “Cultural changes bother people,” Clemente said.

The debate over the failure of Washington, D.C., doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon. A state dinner has not yet been announced, but President Biden is expected to welcome Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House as a state guest next month.

Regarding Sanchez’s choice of gown, Bennett, a former CNN journalist, said that while the red dress was not her preference, she gave the licensed pilot props for staying true to herself.

“She certainly wore that dress with confidence, so I think that probably made her even more of a target. But personally, I’m sure that’s her personality. . She’s incredibly confident.”

Clemente said she loves seeing “when people dress for themselves and do what they want for themselves.”

“I thought she looked beautiful,” the fashion guru said.

“I like people who are willing to participate in the fray and don’t care what people say because they’re still going to wear that dress,” Clemente said. “I respect such people.”

Asked what Washington would think about the fuss over Sanchez’s fashion years from now, Givan said, “Looking back, I think this was a moment where Washington didn’t need to button up his black tie so much.” Maybe,” he said.

“Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s sexy, sometimes it’s edgy,” she said.

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