Mrs. O Shanti Om

That Michelle Obama is one smart cookie. Well, one smart biskut actually (that’s biscuit pronounced the desi way).

We know the woman is brilliant for a multitude of reasons – in all matters from politics to fashion. Perfection arrives, however, when she combines the two seamlessly (pun intended).

She did so, quite astutely this week, during the visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur to the White House. At the first State Dinner hosted by the Obamas, the First Lady wore American-based Indian designers.

During the day at a luncheon, she wore one of her infamous J. Crew cardis – albeit a Bollywood-esque, bejewelled one – with a taupe skirt by American desi designer, Rachel Roy.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts a presentation to young women earlier in the day. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert.

Not only did she honour the PM and his wife by choosing to wear an Indian designer, she hushed any potential criticism by supporting the economy of her home country by choosing a US-based one. All of this, while continuing to support off-mainstream designers to make them household names. There are housewives in the Midwest eBaying Rachel Roy as we speak! I also loved the jumble of pearls and accoutrements on her wrist – very maharani moderne.

A woman who isn't afraid to mix it up. Photo by Mandel Ngan / Getty Images
A class act, all the way. Photo by Mandel Ngan/Getty Images.

Then, there was the golden Naeem Khan number the Mrs. wore to the State Dinner – again, sticking with a US-based Indian designer.

Golden Couple at the State Dinner. Photo by REUTERS/Jason Reed.
Greeting PM Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur. Photo by AP Photo/Charles Dharapak.

That dress certainly made her stand out and establish her place as the hostess, but it didn’t take away from Gusharan Kaur’s classic South Indian sari (love that palloo – so regal!). Both women were able to maintain their grace and their individual personalities, I thought.

What was interesting to me were those that paid their respects to the guests of honour by wearing a touch of India.

White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers arrives in shades of pearl. Photo by REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst.
Katie Couric and Brooks Perlin. Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.

Writer, Jhumpa Lahiri and Alberto Vourvoulias. Photo courtesy of Huffington Post.

Others missed the opportunity. Shame.

Even the tables turned it out for the occasion, in leaf green raw silk. The colour of the flowers echoes the colours of the peacock – the national bird of my Motherland.

Fashionable table. Photo by AFP/Mandel Ngan.

The walls were also lined with magnolias – a flower native to both the US and India. Well played, indeed, by some very gracious hosts.

A little grace goes a long way. Photo by AP Photo/Susan Walsh.
A little grace goes a long way. AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

I know that my invitation will arrive late – in Indian Standard Time. But had it arrived when it was supposed to, my ensemble would have been a toss-up between my mom’s patola sari…

An example of a classic patola print - a double ikat.

…or anything by my soul sister Anamika – maybe even the dress I didn’t get for Diwali.

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