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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose for a photo as they greet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini on the North Portico for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Bittersweet” was the word of the night, the one used most often to describe President Barack Obama’s final state dinner.

“We saved the best for last,” Obama said Tuesday as he welcomed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese Landini, to the White House.

He wasn’t joking.

The final gala meant everything was big or bigger, from the personality of the guest chef (Mario Batali) who collaborated on the menu to the size of the white tent (huge) on the South Lawn where the soiree was held to the guest list (nearly 400 people).

Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., said it’s “a little sad” that it’s Obama’s last state dinner. But to make the occasion even more memorable, he said: “For tonight only, I pronounce my name ‘Canoli,’ not ‘Connolly.”

Michelle Obama’s hairstylist, Johnny Wright, also described the moment as “bittersweet,” but he was still excited to have been invited. The first lady also invited her makeup artist, Carl Ray; her trainer, Cornell McClellan; and Meredith Koop, who helps Mrs. Obama with her wardrobe.

“I’m excited that it’s the last state dinner, so it’s a bittersweet thing,” said actress-comedian Alexandra Wentworth. “I love the Obamas.”

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wait at North Portico of the White House to greet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini, for a State Dinner, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The first lady is wearing a floor length, rose gold chainmail gown designed by Atelier Versace. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Others, meanwhile, sought to inject some levity into the evening.

“We’re Jews, but we identify as Italian,” joked Jerry Seinfeld. By way of explaining why the Obamas may have invited the comedian and his wife, Jessica, Seinfeld said the couple spends a lot of time traveling in Italy “and we almost exclusively go out for Italian food, but that’s as far as I can figure.”

Obama appeared on a recent episode of Seinfeld’s online program “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

After tripping while climbing stairs and then cutting out the lining of her dress, celebrity chef Rachael Ray joked that “I should only come here in sneakers.” Ray has done numerous events with Mrs. Obama to support the first lady’s “Let’s Move” anti-childhood obesity initiative.

Obama has had one dinner bigger than Tuesday’s, a 2014 dinner for African heads of state to which more than 400 people were invited.

Tuesday’s guest list included a touch of everything: celebrities, lawmakers, senior administration officials, White House staff and a large contingent of print and broadcast journalists.

Guests of Italian descent included House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the highest-ranking Italian-American in U.S. politics; former race car driver Mario Andretti, who sported socks designed like a checkered racing flag; fashion designer Giorgio Armani; actor John Turturro; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and actor-director Roberto Benigni.

Once again, Mrs. Obama dazzled with her choice of evening gown, a rose gold chainmail number by Italian designer Versace, the White House said. Other female guests also went Italian in their choice of attire, clothing themselves in Valentino, Roberto Cavalli and others.

Batali helped the White House kitchen crew prepare the meal, and Grammy-winning pop singer Gwen Stefani performed after the tables were cleared, with her boyfriend, country superstar Blake Shelton, looking on from the audience.

A few guests, including fellow cook Sandra Lee, Cuomo’s partner, said they were most looking forward to eating Batali’s food.

In his pre-dinner toast, Obama said American democracy had been graced by a touch of Italy. He noted that the Lincoln Memorial and the interior of the U.S. Capitol dome were done by Italians, and raised a glass to the “enduring alliance” between the U.S. and Italy.

Obama, calling attention to Benigni’s presence, said the actor-director had “promised not to jump on the tables.” The comment recalled Benigni’s antics after he won an Academy Award in 1999 for the Italian film “Life is Beautiful.”

Batali, executive chef Cristeta Comerford and pastry chef Susie Morrison settled on a menu of sweet potato ravioli with browned butter and sage, warm butternut squash salad and an entree of beef pinwheels, an Italian classic, served with broccoli rabe. Dessert was a green apple crostata, or Italian tart, served with buttermilk gelato, or Italian ice cream.

The menu was designed to showcase traditional Italian dishes that are familiar to Americans and were made using ingredients pulled from Mrs. Obama’s garden during this month’s final harvest, such as the sweet potatoes and herbs.

Obama has held 13 state dinners during nearly eight years in office, two more than President George W. Bush, but fewer than other recent predecessors, according to the White House Historical Association. President Bill Clinton far exceeded both of his successors with 28 dinners during two terms in office.


State Dinner guest list:


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9 thoughts on “Michelle Obama Stuns In Versace At ‘Bittersweet’ Final State Dinner

  1. specialt757 on said:

    I hope to see this dress in the Smithsonian one day so our future generations will know what American royalty looks like. I was looking at the dress and the first lady so hard, I forgot to mention how suave and debonair our POTUS was looking. Great job stylist!

  2. We are going to miss the Obama’s, they are such a class act. I thank God every day for allowing me the opportunity to see a black family grace the White House and serve as President of these United States of America. Some people have tried to make it hard for them but they are still standing and he will go down in history as one of the best presidents’ that ever serve this country. First Lady Obama cannot be duplicated. She has shown so much grace and dignity throughout her reign as FLOTUS… Thank you Mr. President and First Lady Michelle Obama for being good and decent people and doing the will of God. You both are delightful and caring people. The best First Family ever

    • specialt757 on said:

      Ditto Alice! I have to admit I didn’t think our country was ready for a black president. Not because there was no one suitable, but I just knew he wouldn’t make it through a full term without a bullet in his back. Sounds like the haters are all talk and no substance, as usual. God is in control today, tomorrow, and forever more. I will truly miss this family and I hope they live happily after ever starting a new chapter in their lives.

  3. Shirley on said:

    I am so going to miss this power couple. Class, grace, elegance that no one can beat. No matter what the disrespectful haters said or tried to do, they always keep their heads up. Like Mrs. Obama said “when they go low, we go high”. Sure wish President Obama could stay for another 4 years but I don’t blame him, enough BS is enough. Time for the next journey.

  4. Thank you for your comments. i agree 100 per cent. Also, I truly believe that the reason the Republicans are so in disarray is because of the way they mistreated the President from day one.
    ‘GOD is always in control.

    • specialt757 on said:

      You got that right Boochie! God IS always in control. The repubs spent 8 years trying everything in their power to destroy this family, but they are still standing with their heads held high. They cannot be duplicated.

  5. The Obamas have been a total class act and have done the White House proud for the last eight years. All the haters have tried and failed to undermined them both. The president and beautiful First Lady can’t be beat by anyone before to come for their class and grace. They will be missed. And to all the haters God does not like ugly. You will reap all you have done to this awesome family.

  6. OMG!!!!

    The POTUS was rather handsome in his tux and the FLOTUS was absolutely gorgeous in her Versace gown!!!!!!

    The last of anything is always the best. I certainly hope that was the case at the last State Dinner before the Obama’s leave the WH!!!!!!!!!

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