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Africa’s First Ladies Use Fashion to Talk About Past and Future

Robin Givhan | Washington Post   in  · ·
August 7, 2014

Rarely has the attire worn to a single gathering at the White House spoken so boisterously about the occasion, the guests and the place of an entire continent in fashion’s global marketplace.

While more than 50 heads of state and their guests dined al fresco at the White House on Tuesday night as guests of the Obamas, the hosts were adamant that it was not an official State Dinner. And making that point more clearly than all the insistent statements of protocol was the clothing. The president wore a dark business suit and a pale blue tie instead of the more formal tuxedo, and first lady Michelle Obama went short. Instead of a grand, floor-length evening gown — the sort that she typically chooses for such occasions — she selected a flowing silk chiffon party dress by Prabal Gurung that fell just a few inches below her knees. The dress, in a bold shade of canary yellow, had a full skirt, fitted waist and delicate ruffled straps. Its lightness and cheerful color declared the evening a more loose-limbed celebration rather than one freighted with the full load of diplomatic formality.


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