The diplomatic community in Washington gathered on Wednesday to celebrate the fashion of first wives around the world, as well as the designers who dress them.
Wearing something makes a big impression on us because it’s the first thing we notice about someone. It’s either a thumbs up or a thumbs down, said Jan Du Plain, a member of the First Fashion Gala host committee who attended the event dressed in a chic white gown.
“In the world of diplomacy, it’s crucial to avoid mistakes with your appearance,”
The event at the Conrad Hotel was organized by the nonprofit group Diplomacy and Fashion and hosted by Indira Gumarova, the wife of Czech Republic Ambassador to the United States Hynek Kmonek.
Upon arrival, guests sipped champagne and cocktails and had their pictures taken on a small red carpet area, or they could mingle around an exhibition of former and current first spouses’ fashion from around the world.
The items included France’s first lady Brigitte Macron’s Chanel gown, former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos’ shoes and gown, and former US first lady Edith Wilson’s gown.
Du Plain praised Gumarova, saying, “It took her a herculean effort to bring these dresses in from these various governments and countries.”
Following cocktail hour, guests were seated at tables arranged around the runway, and each was given a gift bag containing perfumes and skincare products.
Dinner began with an heirloom carrot soup and two arias performed by an opera singer.
The main event, a fashion show featuring the work of designers who have dressed their countries’ first spouses, followed the main course — pappardelle pasta with smoked tomato, mushrooms, and cashew ricotta; or either grilled Amish chicken or wild isle salmon, both served with a russet potato puree and poached summer squash.
Naeem Khan, who dressed former First Lady Michelle Obama, was the American designer.
Other designers included South African designer Fred Eboka, who dressed South Africa’s first lady, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe, Qatari designer Haya Al Adsani, who dresses Moza bint Nasser, Qatar’s former first lady, Guatemalan designer Anita Lara, and Czech designer Tatiana Kováková.
Gumarova, who is not a designer but has advised Czech first ladies on fashion over the years, explained that it is not like styling other clients.
“It’s so different because you have to incorporate not only size or style, but also culture, colors, religion, and what is appropriate and what is not.” “So, all of these rituals kind of blend together in one dress,” Gumarova explained.
“It’s not typical for a celebrity or a fashionista,” she added.
The event raised over $100,000 for Diplomacy and Fashion, which will benefit undergraduate students studying either fashion or diplomacy.