The first lady chose a dramatic Carolina Herrera ball gown with a voluminous skirt and lace-overlay top. The blue and black gown is the first dress with sleeves Obama has worn to a state dinner. Previously she donned one-shouldered pieces from Peter Soronen and Doo-Ri Chung, and a strapless gown by Naeem Khan for the administration’s first official state dinner in 2009 for India.
The dress includes a black hand-sewn beaded embroidery applique scallop-edged top over a liberty blue silk faille corset, according to a statement from the designer. A wide black velvet belt breaks up the top from the silk faille inverted pleat skirt.
Obama has previously favored younger, up-and-coming designers, but for this state dinner chose a veteran of the American fashion industry. Herrera, a Venezuelan native, has been producing eveningwear since 1981, was named the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year in 2004 and received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
She is well-known for her classic shapes, including A-lined ball gowns and polished separates, as well as her personal style that is dictated by a uniform of crisp white shirts and fitted black pants.
Herrera showed her Fall 2014 collection at New York Fashion Week Monday.