The Skinny on the State Dinner

Michelle Obama wore Naeem Khan, and other tidbits
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2009 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – Didn't have a ticket to the country's hottest social event? No worries. Here's the who and what of last night's state dinner honoring Indian PM Manmohan Singh:

  • The outdoor tent was decorated with local, sustainably harvested magnolia branches and ivy; centerpieces of hydrangeas, roses, and sweet peas evoked India's state bird, the peacock.
  • Obama greeted his guests in Hindi.
  • Michelle wore a strapless, silver-sequined, cream-colored gown custom-made by Naeem Khan; it reportedly took three weeks to complete the dress—with 40 people working on it.

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  • Guest chef Marcus Samuelsson, of Aquavit, created a menu that included arugula from the White House garden, collard greens, curried prawns, chickpeas and okra, naan, cornbread, and a pumpkin pie tart.
  • Dinner was served on a mix of Eisenhower, Clinton, and Bush administration china.
  • Musicians included (no surprise here) Jennifer Hudson, who sang "The Very Thought of You," "What a Difference a Day Makes," and "Somewhere"; plus Chicago jazz musician Kurt Elling, the National Symphony Orchestra, and AR Rahman, the composer of the Slumdog Millionaire score.
  • Not-previously-reported notable guests included Blair Underwood, M. Night Shyamalan, Deepak Chopra, Gayle King, and Brian Williams.
(Read more Obama's first state dinner stories.)

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