The meeting between Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama may have been the headline of the day… but at this evening’s star-studded state dinner, it’s the First Ladies who are the center of attention.
The first state dinner of Obama’s final year honors Canada and its dashing new liberal leader – and is the first hosted by the White House for America’s northern neighbor in nearly 20 years.
And spring appears to be the theme of the night, with both Michelle Obama and Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, opting for floral-themed dresses.
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Welcome! President Barack Obama, right, waves as he poses for a photograph with, from left, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, Michelle Obama, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House during a star-studded State Dinner
Say cheese! President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau at the North Portico of the White House
Michelle Obama looked sensational in a deep blue jacquard gown by Jason Wu, who also designed the first lady’s inaugural gowns.
It featured a playful flower pattern and asymmetrical draping. Michelle wore her hair in full, loose waves, with long bangs swept to one side.
Sophie chose a bright purple dress by Canadian designer Lucian Matis adorned with coral flower-shaped appliques.
Like Michelle, Sophie is considered a fashion icon in Canada – and her outfits at special events are widely anticipated and celebrated.
Sophie is a former TV host in Canada and worked as an entertainment reporter for several TV networks before marrying her husband.
After they wed, Mrs Trudeau then immersed herself in charity work, mainly focusing on issues such as mental health, eating disorders, and women’s issues.
Both women also sported springtime looks earlier on Thursday for a welcome ceremony at the White House.
Michelle chose a sleeveless green and black frock by Toronto-born Tanya Taylor. Sophie wore a knee-length red and pink dress by Matis
Spring has sprung! Both Michelle and Sophie opted for spring-themed gowns with floral patterns by Canadian designers
It’s about time, eh? The first state dinner of Obama’s final year honors Canada and its dashing new liberal leader – the first for America’s northern neighbor by the White in nearly 20 years
Stunning: Michelle Obama wore a deep blue strapless gown by Jason Wu and Sophie chose a bright purple dress by Canadian designer Lucian Matis
Cute: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds hands with his wife Sophie as they arrive at the White House state dinner
Greetings: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome the Trudeaus to the White House on Thursday evening
Stylish: President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama wait to greet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
Gorgeous: Malia Obama, 17, looked stunning in a strapless beige gown and wore her hair in loose curls over one shoulder
All grown up! Sasha Obama, 14, opted for a chic semi-sheer dress and wore her hair in trendy double braids
With this evening’s dress by Wu, who grew up in Canada, the First Lady continues her tradition of wearing dresses to White House dinners by designers representing the nation being honored.
At the China State Dinner last fall, she chose a custom-made gown by Chinese-American designer Vera Wang and last spring, she wore a floaty frock by Japanese-born Tadashi Shoji for the Japan State Dinner.
While both looked dashing, the designers of President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau’s tuxedos were not revealed.
The dinner in honor of 44-year-old Trudeau, the son of former Canadian PM Pierre Trudeau is the first by the White House in nearly 20 years.
The last official visit to the U.S. by Canada’s leader was in April 1997.
‘It’s about time, eh?’ Obama joked, playing up the American stereotype of a Canadian colloquialism as he welcomed Trudeau to the White House.
The president’s toast during the state dinner was similarly jovial, when he declared Trudeau ‘the most popular Canadian named Justin,’ a reference to another Canadian sensation, singer Justin Bieber.
He also joked: ‘If things get out of hand, remember the prime minister used to work as a bouncer.’
Obama raised his glass to, among other things, the ‘great alliance’ between U.S. and Canada.
He said: ‘Tonight, we want our Canadians friends to feel at home. So this is not a dinner, it’s supper. We thought of serving up some poutine. I was going to bring a two-four. And then we’d finish off the night with a double-double.
‘But I had to draw the line at getting milk out of a bag — — this, we Americans do not understand. We do, however, have a little Canadian whiskey. That, we do understand.
‘This visit has been a celebration of the values that we share. We, as a peoples, are committed to the principles of equality and opportunity — the idea that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can make it if you try, no matter what the circumstances of your birth, in both of our countries.’
Speech: Obama delivers remarks at a White House State Dinner in honor of Canada’s dashing new leader Justin Trudeau (pictured left)
Cheers! President Obama toasts Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, during a State Dinner in the East Room of the White House
Amusing: During his remarks, Canadian leader Justin Trudeu joked that he hopes his ‘grey hair comes in at a slower rate’ than Obama’s
Here’s to us: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) drinks after a toast with US President Barack Obama during the state dinner
Taking a moment: Obama shakes hands with Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie after the Canadian Prime Minister’s remarks
Private joke: The Obamas share a moment during a spring-theme state dinner at the White House on Thursday evening
Canadian counterparts: New Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife are in Washington for a three-day state visit with their children
Lavish: Around 200 guests sporting tuxedos and designer gowns are in attendance at the glitzy state dinner in the White House East Room
Then it was Trudeau’s turn to take the stage, where he said the U.S. and Canada are more than friends and like siblings, except Canada is more ‘stay-at-home’ and U.S. is more ‘rebellious.’
He thanked Obama for efforts on climate change, saying it’s time to discard ‘the outdated notion’ a healthy economy and environment ‘stand in opposition.’
The PM also made a reference to Syrian refugee crisis and 25,000 refugees resettled in Canada.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU?
Baked Alaskan Halibut ‘Casserole’ accented with delicate angel hair asparagus, chanterelles and spring onion, and finished with herbed butter sourced from Michelle Obama’s White House Kitchen Garden
Salad of thin slivered, roasted apricots in ginger, cardamom, and White House Honey, with crystal lettuce, young arugula, and variegated spinach. It is garnished with pine nut crisps and shaved Appalachian cheese
Herb-crusted Colorado lamb, Yukon Gold potato dauphinoise and lightly sauteed spring vegetables. As a finishing touch, the dish is drizzled with Yukon Jack Canadian whiskey
Maple pecan cake with cocoa nib wafer and butterscotch swirl ice cream
There will also be a variety of pastries ‘with American and Canadian influences’, as well as a sugar sculpture, hnadmade by Chef Morrison inspired by the Rocky Mountains
Source: White House
But he wasn’t without a few jokes too, remarking that after seven years as prime minister, he hopes his ‘grey hair comes in at a slower rate’ than Obama’s.
Just under 200 guests sporting tuxedos and designer gowns are in attendance at the glitzy state dinner in the White House East Room, which has been transformed by the addition of rows of blooming orchids, hydrangeas and amaranth in shades of green and white meant to evoke the coming of spring – much like Trudeau’s election in October has ushered in a new season in Canadian politics.
The guest list features a hefty dose of Canadian star power provided by actors Michael J. Fox, Mike Myers, Sandra Oh and Ryan Reynolds, along with ‘Saturday Night Live’ creator Lorne Michaels.
And it appears the new Canadian leader is popular with the celebrity guests, who described him as a ‘breath of fresh air’.
‘He’s cool,’ said Michael J. Fox.
The actor is also a huge fan of Trudeau’s late father Pierre – along with Mike Myers.
Myers said: ‘When I lived in Canada, Pierre Trudeau was my prime minister for 14 years and he’s my hero.
‘Now I’m thrilled to have his son as my prime minister. I think it’s going to be a great time for Canada and a great time for Canadian-U.S. relations.’
On the presidential race, Myers joked: ‘Is there a debate tonight?’
He added: ‘One of the things that Canada can offer the world is civility and one of the great legacies that Canada may leave is the strength of the democracy is not how we agree but how well you disagree.
When asked about Americans saying they want to leave the U.S. if Donald Trump is elected, he said ‘We’ll take you all. During the war of 1812, we got Detroit and gave it back to you guys.’
SNL producer Lorne Michaels said he met the Canadian Prime Minister earlier today at lunch and described him as ‘very impressive.’
Professional sports were represented by the U.S. hockey and basketball commissioners, along with retired NBA player Grant Hill and his wife, Tamia, a Canadian singer.
A small group of Democratic U.S. senators planned to attend, joined by Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah.
The menu was also designed with spring in mind. It includes halibut casserole with spring vegetables, salad with apricots roasted in ginger, cardamom and White House honey, and herb-crusted Colorado lamb drizzled with a Canadian whiskey sauce.
Power couple: The Deadpool actor looked dashing in a dark blue tuxedo, while his wife chose a silver dress by Ralph & Russo with a plunging neckline and thigh high split with jewelry by Lorraine Schwartz
Oh Canada! There’s plenty of Canadian star power in attendance, including actor Ryan Reynolds (left) with his wife Blake Lively
Huge fan! Mike Myers, who arrived with his wife Kelly, said: ‘When I lived in Canada, Pierre Trudeau was my prime minister for 14 years and he’s my hero. Now I’m thrilled to have his son as my prime minister’
Specs appeal: Sandra Oh and Lev Rukhin arrive at a State Dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House
Dressed up: Actor Michael J Fox, who was born in Edmonton in Canada, also attended the dinner at the White House with his wife Tracy Pollan
Couples: Former NBA star Grant Hill attended the dinner with this wife Tamia, left, while Alexander Macgillvray, the deputy chief technology officer at the the White House wore a kilt as he attended with his partner Shona Crabtree
Putting on a show: Sara Bareilles, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama, is headlining the after-dinner entertainment
Entertainment: Singer Sara Bareilles performs her song ‘Brave,’ with the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir
The dessert course is cake made with toasted Texas pecans and New England maple syrup, along with a separate hand-crafted sugar sculpture inspired by the Rocky Mountains and bearing an assortment of petite pastries with American and Canadian influences.
Sara Bareilles, a favorite of First Lady Michelle Obama, is headlining the after-dinner entertainment.
Trudeau, who was accompanied to the U.S. on a three-day visit by his wife and their three young children – Xavier, eight, Ella-Grace, seven and Hadrien, two – took office in November and carries one of the most famous names in Canadian political history.
His late father, Pierre Trudeau, was prime minister for the better part of 16 years, between 1968 and 1984, and remains the rare Canadian politician who is recognized in America.
Extravagant: The White House East Room has been transformed by the addition of rows of blooming orchids, hydrangeas and amaranth in shades of green and white meant to evoke the coming of spring
Strike a pose: Malia Obama (center) sat next to former Grey’s Anatomy star and Canadian actress Sandra Oh
Family affair: Margaret Trudeau, mother of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is applauded as she is introduced by Obama
Obama, 54, and Trudeau traded light-hearted barbs earlier on Thursday over a source of national pride for Canadians: hockey.
‘Where’s the Stanley Cup right now?’ Obama joked, before providing the answer. His hometown Chicago Blackhawks won the National Hockey League’s championship trophy last season.
Trudeau tried to match Obama’s trash talk, noting that three of the Blackhawks’ best players are from Canada.
The Stanley Cup was at the State Department on Thursday afternoon at a lunch there for Trudeau.
If Obama had his way, it could be part of the state dinner décor this evening.
The Blackhawks brought it to the East Room last month when Obama recognized the team for winning its third NHL title in six years.
‘We’ve got a state dinner with Canada coming up, so we may just leave it right in the middle of the room,’ Obama said.
Working together: Michelle Obama and Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau also opted for spring-themed dresses to attend a program at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, to highlight Let Girls Learn efforts and raise awareness for global girl’s education
What’s on the menu? An example of the table settings that Trudeau and his wife will enjoy on Thursday night
President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, First Lady Michelle Obama and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau pose from a balcony as they take part in an arrival ceremony for the Trudeaus at the White House on Thursday
The world leaders revealed on Thursday that they would be joining forces to help fight climate change by seeking both governments to reduce methane emissions by 40 to 45 per cent
As Obama and Trudeau went down the greeting line, the Canuck showed that he shares Obama’s enthusiasm for adorable babies
The camaraderie was just as strong between the two first ladies, who were seen laughing as their husbands shared the stage
As per tradition, the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, dressed in 18th century colonial uniform, form a parade and march in front of the raised dais on the South Lawn
Following their private meeting in the Oval Office, Obama and Trudeau held a joint press conference in the Rose Garden
Bonjour! Justin Trudeau, 44, arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Wednesday with his wife Sophie and three young children Xavier, Ella-Grace and Hadrien