The day started on the White House lawn under umbrellas, with President Obama welcoming South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and first lady Kim Yoon-ok, and beckoning for more coverage from the autumnal drizzle.
But the night was all dazzle, as Michelle Obama added to her array of stunner gowns; on this occasion, she went for a purple, one-shouldered number by New York designer Doo-Ri Chung, and thus decided to light up the gloomy weather that enveloped first family’s fifth state dinner.
Guests reached the White House around 6 p.m. with wet gutters and puddles for floor-length gowns to avoid. But inside, East Wing planners presented a showcase of fall flavors — for the eyes and taste buds. With the wagyu beef, some roasted squash; with the soup course, a pumpkin-seed praline. And amid the red, orange and green displays on the walls, windows and tabletops, apples came into play.
The event marked the second state dinner overseen by White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard, whose June evening in the Rose Garden, honoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel, featured greens from the first lady’s garden and tunes from James Taylor, who puts the mellow in melody. This time, Janelle Monae was scheduled to sing after the supper and strut her usually tuxedoed, pompadoured self before the crowd. She had a tough act to follow — a food finale that the menu called “Chocolate Malt Devil’s Food Layers with Pear and Almond Brittle,” presided over by Executive Pastry Chef William Yosses.