It wasn't exactly an apology or a mea culpa. Call it a gesture of goodwill to Seventh Avenue.

For Friday's state dinner in honor of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, First Lady Michelle Obama chose a custom mermaid gown from the Vera Wang Collection. It exuded Hollywood glamour of the sort that has long defined the red carpet.

But more important than its style, it was created by a Seventh Avenue veteran of Chinese descent. Wang, 66, was born in New York, but her parents were born in Shanghai and immigrated to the United States.

"It is such a privilege, as an American of Chinese heritage, to have dressed First Lady Michelle Obama for this state dinner honoring President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan, of the People's Republic of China," Wang tweeted.

Who would design the first lady's state dinner gown was more than an aesthetic curiosity. It was a matter of smoothing the ruffled feathers of an American fashion industry that had felt snubbed when, for a China state dinner in 2011 honoring President Hu Jintao, Obama selected a fiery red gown from the British label Alexander McQueen.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America went so far as to issue a statement expressing the trade group's disappointment.

Adding to the injury in 2011, Obama didn't even give American designers a nod with her choice of attire for the morning's traditional arrival ceremony. She wore an embellished dress by the Serbian-born designer Roksanda Ilincic.

But in Take Two, Obama not only turned to an U.S. label for the main event, she wore an American brand to the White House arrival ceremony. She chose a custom dress and coat from 3.1 Phillip Lim, a New York-based brand founded by Phillip Lim and Wen Zhou.

Washington post

'The Gambler' to retire from touring

Kenny Rogers says he's retiring from touring and will do one last worldwide farewell tour after five decades on the road. Rogers, 77, says in a video message on his website that he wants to spend more time with his two young sons and his wife, Wanda. The Grammy-winning singer will be on the road through the end of the year promoting his latest Christmas album, "Once Again It's Christmas," and then will do a final world tour in 2016 with cities and dates to be announced later. Rogers, whose career has spanned country, pop, Christian and folk genres and over 65 albums, says he's still thinking about making new music.

Associated Press