President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his wife, Jenny, on Friday for their second White House state dinner. The event took place under the stars in the Rose Garden, transformed into a backdrop of gold and green colors and flowers to symbolize the strong ties between the United States and the Down Under continent.
Melania Trump wore a J Mendel seafoam green gown with a high neck and transparent sleeves. The dress is embellished with vertical rows of bias-cut wavy ruffles falling to a skirt with narrow pleats. It sells for about $6,000 on the Bergdorf Goodman website but is on sale for about $1,500.
Celebrity guests included Australian pro-golfer Greg Norman, a friend and sometime golf partner to the president; Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp. and son of Aussie-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch; Fox News' Trump-backing commentator Lou Dobbs and his wife, Debi Dobbs; and another Fox star, Maria Bartiromo and her husband, Jonathan Steinberg.
Kellyanne Conway came alone. Trump's personal attorney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, arrived with date Maria Ryan, the woman his current and third wife complained in court documents he spent $300,000 on since their divorce proceeding began.
Morrison, 51, a conservative in Australian politics, is just the second world leader to be treated to the top honor of a state visit during the Trump administration. The first state dinner under President Trump honored French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, in April 2018.
For their second big diplomatic get together, the Trumps put on an opulent feast. The Aussies and scores of guests dined on sunchoke ravioli, Dover sole and Lady apple tarts on china from the Clinton and Bush administrations, and sipped fruity Napa and Australian wines as U.S. military bands played in the background.
The White House said Melania Trump "carefully selected" the colors, decor and menu for the dinner to reflect the continuation of one of America's "most important and enduring relationships."
President Trump promised the dinner “will be quite something.”
"The first lady has done an incredible job tonight," Trump said as he sat with Morrison in the Oval Office at mid-morning. "The only thing that can dampen it would be rain and we're not expecting any rain. But if it rains, we head over to the State (Dining) Room and we'll be just fine."
"Thanks, mate," Morrison said.
The color scheme for the dinner was green and gold, Australia's national colors, derived from its national flower, the golden wattle. The Rose Garden was filled with American varieties of yellow and white garden roses and wattle flowers in gold woven baskets.
The table linens featured ombré shades of yellows and greens and the centerpieces consisted of golden wattles and more than 2,500 California roses in shades of yellow. The tables, illuminated with gold oil lamps, also had golden Champagne grapes to highlight both countries’ rich wine industries.
The menu was designed to reflect America's diverse food traditions and the lush, late summer season while paying homage to Australia’s blend of culinary adaptations from its various cultures, the White House said.
Earlier on Friday, the Morrisons were welcomed with the usual pomp-filled ceremonies on the South Lawn, including a "Review of the Troops" consisting of nearly 500 members from the five military branches, a 19-gun salute and Marine band performances of both national anthems (that would be "Advance Australia Fair," not "Waltzing Matilda").
The first lady wore a pale blue crepe knit cocoon dress by Australian designer Scanlan Theodore, plus python Christian Louboutin heels, for the ceremony.
Hundreds gathered on the lawn under clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures as children waved miniature Australian and U.S. flags. Those invited to attend included members of the Cabinet, Congress, military families and guests of the Australian Embassy.
"Today we celebrate the long-cherished and unwavering friendship between the United States and Australia,” the president told the crowd. Morrison said the two nations “see the world through the same lens.”
"You won’t find a more sure and steadfast friend – a better mate – than Australia," Morrison said.
Morrison and the president met later for talks and held a joint news conference in the East Room. Morrison also was treated to lunch at the State Department.
Morrison is the head of Australia's Liberal Party, which despite its name is actually the center-right party Down Under. He scored a surprise victory in Australia's national elections in May, securing his first full term as PM, underscoring Aussie voters' general conservative leanings and pleasing President Trump.
Australia last received the honor of a state visit to the U.S. in 2006, when President George W. Bush feted Prime Minister John Howard.
The White House said the Trumps presented gifts to the visiting couple: The Trumps gave the Morrisons a custom-made leather photo album hand-inscribed with 23-karat gold and a Tiffany & Co. pewter bowl engraved with the presidential seal and the signatures of both Trumps.
Trump gave Morrison a model of the USS Canberra, which is currently being built at an Alabama shipyard, and a framed map of the Battle of the Coral Sea, a World War II battle in which the U.S. and Australian naval and air forces fought together against the Japanese.
Mrs. Trump's choice for Jennifer Morrison was a sterling silver and 18-karat gold Tiffany & Co. "Infinity" cuff bracelet.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Melania Trump makes waves in J Mendel gown for second state dinner