Jill Biden’s Sparkling State Dinner Gown Resurrected First Lady Tradition

Jill Biden’s Sparkling State Dinner Gown. Fact: When the French is coming over for dinner, you should probably dress to impress. When those pals happen to be France’s first couple, with one of them being a real fashion star and the darling of the Paris celebrity-mag press, a touch of glitz is, if anything, absolutely necessary.

Jill Biden stepped up on Thursday night and delivered a terrific performance. At the first state dinner of the presidency, Hillary and Vice President Biden received French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, on the White House steps in the cold of December.

Jill Biden
Jill Biden

The first lady wore a blue, off-the-shoulder, column gown with sparkling beading; light danced in the spaces between the many delicate flower appliqués that made up the outer outline. Yes, the first lady managed to slip her characteristic florals into even the most formal of presidential ceremonies, and they were a show stopper.

This wasn’t, however, her only noteworthy comment of the evening. The fact that Biden went with Oscar de la Renta for her first official state dinner as the first lady says a lot about how she feels about both fashion and tradition. Brigitte Macron’s dress choices over the previous few days have undoubtedly been the most impressive.

An article in a French magazine praised her “luminous” and “downright stylish” monotone beige ensemble as she deplaned at Joint Base Andrews on a Tuesday evening. Macron donned a double-breasted long jacket and a high-collared blouse on top, along with her distinctive black cigarette slacks and chunky black shoes, to visit the mausoleum of Pierre Charles L’Enfant at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.

To greet the Macrons on Thursday at the White House, Biden wore a high-collared coat, heels, and gloves all in the same rosy-pink hue, a head-to-toe jewel tone similar to what she wore on Inauguration Day in 2021. She wore a dark wool coat over a demure knee-length dress to a private dinner with the Macrons the night before.

The First Lady’s custom Oscar de la Renta gown for Thursday night’s state banquet was not just a smart and risk-worthy choice (that daring neckline! those cute little openings!) but also communicated a dedication to cherished traditions.

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The garment was fashioned especially for Biden by Oscar de la Renta, which is now led by designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim. At the dinner, Garcia told The Washington Post, “It was crucial for her to feel like herself.”

However, due to the high number of first women who have worn his creations, the American label’s namesake has earned the unofficial title of “First Designer of the United States.” In the 1960s, it was Jacqueline Kennedy; then Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush.

When Michelle Obama wore a dress by European designer Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton to a state dinner with China in 2011, Oscar de la Renta was not pleased. According to his interview with Women’s Wear Daily, he explained that the purpose of the trip was to increase demand for Chinese and American goods.

I don’t understand why you’re dressing so Europeanly. Some speculated that the statement was made out of a sense of being spurned because Obama had never worn his designs before. (Obama eventually wore an Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress, weeks before De La Renta passed away, long into her second term as the first lady.)

Like Obama, Melania Trump wore de la Renta relatively seldom. In other words, Oscar de la Renta dresses were frequently worn by first women at official presidential ceremonies. Thus, Biden’s shimmering dress on Thursday night represented more than simply a chic fashion choice; it was also a courageous move toward the repair of a precious friendship. A proclamation of pride in the American style tradition.

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