The Obamas rolled out all the stops for the State Dinner with President Hu last night, unlike the Bushes who offended Hu by refusing to throw such a fete for a non-democratically elected leader.
Mrs. Obama donned a serious ballroom gown by Sarah Burton of the London house Alexander McQueen. The gown not only signaled the formality of the event, but it’s red color paid specific homage to the Chinese.
At the request of the Chinese Delegation, the White House arranged a “quintessentially American” evening. Of course here at HKH, we’re always interested in tabletop design. From the White House:
- Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events drew his inspiration from the fabric for the dinner linens for the “quintessentially American” designs. The print features pheasants on patterned backgrounds in jewel tones, reminiscent of the work of iconic American artist John James Audubon, our country’s preeminent naturalist. The theme and design of the dinner take cues from Audubon’s work, which reflect the beauty the natural world.
- The Pheasant is the native bird of China, revered for its beauty and seen as a symbol of nobility. The linens for the State Dinner reflect a pheasant motif, done in tones of blue, red, and brown prints.
- A symbol of China—yellow, the national color—will be present throughout the cocktail area.
- The classic architecture of the State Dining Room will be accentuated by a deep red lighting scheme.
The American menu featured the stereotypical Pear and Goat Cheese Salad, Maine Lobster, Lemon Sorbet, Dry Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions and Double Stuffed Potatoes, with Old Fashioned Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream for the grand finale.
Of course, it always seems like a bunch of political rhetoric, but it seems that a little progress has actually been made… Hu acknowledged America’s worries about North Korea and said China “recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights.” The White House has not shied away from human rights during Hu’s visit–they did, for example, invite Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Watch. Among other notables, Vera Wang and Jackie Chan were both invited to represent Asian Americans. Anna Wintour and Barbara Streisand also made the cut… Streisand said she was included because she once worked in a Chinese restaurant.