The White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner Best Dressed

No one calls it the nerd prom anymore. Like every other event involving a red carpet these days, the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner has become yet another opportunity to use a moment of image-making to generate conversation and influence public opinion. It only stands to reason.

After all, who understands the point of the photo op and the way it attracts eyeballs in the chaos of the mass social media-sphere better than those who helped to create it and the politicians they cover? They know that while we may come for the celebrities who gravitate toward the warm glow of power and substance — last year, it was Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson making their official debut as a couple; this year, it’s Chrissy Teigen and John Legend — what lingers is the way the real stars of the evening use their moment in the spotlight. The most interesting choices are about a lot more than pretty clothes.

(See, for example, the decision by Tamara Keith, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, to use her dress to pay homage to the polka-dot dress Holly Hunter’s character wore to the W.H.C.D. in “Broadcast News,” a film that sparked her own desire to go into journalism.)

Who did it best this time around? The answers may surprise you.

The White House press secretary chose a white dress by Emily Adams Bode for the dinner, demonstrating her facility with the game of fashion diplomacy. Ms. Bode is not only an independent designer in New York, but also one who made her name working with upcycled fabrics and other castoff materials, allowing Ms. Jean-Pierre to underscore the Biden administration’s efforts toward local manufacturing and sustainability.

Not to mention the American fashion industry, which hasn’t had quite the same love from the current West and East Wing regimes from some previous administrations. (Ms. Bode being something of a poster child for American fashion success, having won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for best American men’s wear designer for the last three years and recently branching out into women’s wear, which she unveiled to great acclaim in Paris.)

Word has it that Ms. Jean-Pierre will also be attending the Met Gala, all of which suggests this may be a foreshadowing of a deeper relationship to come.

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