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Lyons praised the First Lady’s fashion choices on her European trip so far. “She never looks stuffy, she looks modern and feminine,” she said. “It’s exciting to have a First Lady who isn’t all suited up and tightly coiffed.”
Even Queen Elizabeth II caught the bug. Although the Obamas are not in Britain on a state visit, she requested a private, informal meeting with the first couple at Buckingham Palace — marking the 12th U.S. president she’s met during her reign, stretching back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Michelle Obama arrived for the visit wearing a Jason Wu black duchess satin opera coat over an Isabel Toledo silk satin crepe dress with a black skirt and white bodice, and a black Azzedine Alaïa cardigan, her chic monochrome look a sharp contrast to the queen’s decidedly dowdy salmon pink shift dress.
The British monarch, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Obamas met for about 20 minutes before the G-20 leaders and their spouses arrived for a cocktail party at the Palace — during which Michelle Obama chatted with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall — ahead of a dinner at Downing Street hosted by Sarah Brown. Brown, maybe hearing the criticism, made an effort, donning a Graeme Black brown beaded jacket paired with a brown Britt Lintner dress, accessorized with brown leather Jimmy Choo shoes, which her spokesman said she had “picked up in the January sales.”
Earlier in the day, Michelle Obama drew cheering crowds outside a cancer care center based at Charing Cross Hospital, where she paid a visit alongside Brown. Even the nurses were hanging out of the windows to watch her arrival. In her signature, straight-talking style, she chatted with the staff about her plans to install a beehive at the White House, a perfect accompaniment to the vegetable garden she’s planting: “We have a big lawn,” she joked, and happily quaffed a cup of tea — brewed by Sarah Brown. Later the Obamas briefly met Conservative Party leader David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, who also is creative director of British stationery and leather goods brand Smythson.
On Wednesday night, the First Lady joined Brown for a G-20 spouses dinner at Downing Street, with guests including high-profile British women such as “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, Olympic gold medalist Dame Kelly Holmes, film director Gurinder Chadha, broadcaster Emma Freud and, the sole representative of the fashion world, none other than Naomi Campbell.
Obama was seated between Rowling and Holmes. The guests dined on an all-British meal concocted by Jamie Oliver, including organic salmon from Shetland, vegetables from Sussex, Surrey and Kent, and Irish soda bread.
The main course was slow-roasted shoulder of lamb from Wales accompanied by Jersey Royal potatoes, followed by dessert of Bakewell tart and custard. Other G-20 spouses invited to the dinner included Margarita Zavala, the wife of Mexican President Felipe Calderón; Sonsoles Espinosa, the opera-singer wife of the Spanish prime minister; Laureen Harper, wife of the Canadian prime minister, and Liu Yongqing, the wife of the Chinese president.