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Lauren Sanchez's State Dinner Dress Sparks Hot White House Fashion Debate

Lauren Sanchez's State Dinner Dress Sparks Hot White House Fashion Debate


In a city generally unconcerned with fashion and rife with partisan friction, a high-profile figure's attire at a swanky White House affair has sparked a fierce debate seemingly as polarizing as politics in Washington.

Lauren Sánchez, former television host turned philanthropist and fiancée of Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, turned heads at the White House last week when she wore a ruby ​​red dress to the state dinner for Japan. The $2,300 corset dress by Rosario featured a low cut, off-the-shoulder lace and cinched waist.

This spicy number sparked a political fashion storm. A publication on the social platform with a photo of Sánchez's bare clothing garnered more than 4.4 million views.

Many social media users strongly criticized Sánchez's look for the state dinner, calling it “totally inappropriate,” “embarrassing” and “the trashiest thing” ever seen at the black-tie gala. White House.

But Kate Bennett, a former fashion editor who covered state dinners and countless other events as a former CNN White House correspondent focused on the first lady, praised Sánchez for remaining “true to the brand” with her burgundy outfit.

Sánchez's style, Bennett said, “is incredibly sexy and feminine and she makes no apologies for it.”

“She wears a black tie. Was it traditional White House black tie? No, but maybe people are interested in government disruption,” joked Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning senior general critic.

“Honestly, I think it's kind of funny that traditional Washington has become all about a red dress and neckline,” said Givhan, a former famous fashion writer.

The clothing choices for the state dinner, Bennett said, “really run the gamut” and represent the “fashion muddle zone” that exists in the nation's capital.

“Some guests are really interested in the country they are hosting and wear certain colors or certain designers. And some look like they just grabbed something from the shopping cart and ran out of the office to the state dinner. I mean, that’s what makes DC fashion DC fashion,” said Bennett, the author of 2019’s “Free, Melania: The Unauthorized Biography.”

“You're never really sure, you never really have time and you never really know what other people are going to wear. And it’s a little different from any other city in terms of style and fashion,” she said.

“There’s no written protocol, but it’s just common sense,” said one longtime East winger, who has helped prepare state dinners. “If you have a question about what that might be, you can consult Miss Manners, but you must use common sense.”

“I can't say you've never had bare skin in the White House before,” the former White House official said, “but a lot of people would probably choose something else and still be able to do a statement with a beautiful dress.”

The Hill has reached out to a representative for Sánchez for comment.

Kelly Johnson, the stylist who would have helped coordinating Sánchez's state dinner look, did not respond to The Hill's request for comment.

Deirdre Clemente, a fashion historian and associate director of the Reid Public History Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said any type of dress code is “inherently sexist because it regulates women's bodies.”

“I think his overt sexuality or something like that really irritates people,” Clemente said of Sánchez, 54.

This isn't the first time the typically buttoned-up Washington has been full of chatter – and sarcasm – over a clothing controversy.

In 1971, Sonia McMahon, the wife of the Australian Prime Minister, made headlines for sporting “the most daring but tasteful dress seen in the White House during the Nixon administration” at a dinner party. State in honor of the couple.

McMahon's dress, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “full-length royal cream, thigh-high slit, with continuous side panels filled with flesh-colored fabric,” a statement made.

The prime minister's wife, the Australian newspaper exclaimed, “put Australia on the American map without saying a word.”

The talk of sewing is not limited to Washington women. Then-President Obama sparked a fierce debate over fashion victims in 2014 when he donned a beige suit during a press conference.

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

“I don’t think any of us can in any way excuse what the president did yesterday,” King said.

The White House defended Obama's jacket in a statement released the day after the viral moment, saying it “wholeheartedly supported the decision he made” to “wear his summer suit.”

Like Obama's beige suit drama, Givhan said, the raised eyebrows at Sánchez's style “say a lot more about Washington than it does about her.”

“Washington still has an astonishing capacity to be outraged by anything fashion-related,” she said.

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

Last September, the Senate voted to require professional attire to be worn on the chamber floor, following a bipartisan backlash after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) attempted to relax the dress code.

Schumer's decision was seen by some as a way to accommodate Fetterman, known for opting for shorts and hoodies rather than suits at the Capitol.

The “rules” of fashion, said University of Nevada historian Clemente, “are constantly changing.”

“People are annoyed that the boundaries of where we are allowed to wear things, who is allowed to wear them, and in what context and when are changing. Cultural change annoys people,” Clemente said.

The debate over failures in Washington is unlikely to die down any time soon. Although no formal state dinner has been announced, President Biden plans to welcome Kenyan President William Ruto to the White House for a state visit next month.

As for Sánchez's choice of dress, former CNN reporter Bennett said that while the red dress wasn't her taste, she praised the licensed pilot for staying true to himself.

“She certainly wore that dress with confidence, and I think that may have made her an additional target.” But I'm sure that personally, that's how she is: she's incredibly confident.

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

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

“I like people who are willing to step into the fray and don't care what people say because they will always wear that dress,” Clemente said. “I respect people like that.”

Asked what Washington might think of the fuss over Sánchez's fashion in a few years, Givhan said: “We might look back and think that was the time when Washington's black tie no longer needed be also buttoned up. »

“It can be fun, sexy or daring,” she said.

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