Pulling Out the Stops for a White Tie Feast

At Georges de Paris, Washington's exclusive tailor shop, a flurry of last-minute preparations are under way.

Monday's state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth II is the first white-tie event at the White House in 13 years. The last one was hosted by President Clinton for the emperor of Japan.

With only 134 guests on the list, the dinner is the hottest ticket in town -- a veritable who's who of Washington elite.

The guest list is officially a secret, but some names are trickling out. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be there. So will Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, indicating at least a temporary truce in what is right now a highly polarized city.

Leticia Baldrige, who planned a number of state dinners as social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy during the ultra-elegant days of Camelot, says the list will likely include some high-profile members of the media and some celebrities.

"It's a very frenzied sight in the dining room as people are saying to one another, 'Well, who are you? How important are you to have been invited to this?'" she said.

The dinner is something of a reciprocal affair: When President Bush visited England in 2003, he and the first lady attended a white tie gala at Buckingham Palace.

But the president has repeatedly made it clear he's far more comfortable in workout gear. Laura Bush told ABC News it took a nudge from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to get her husband to agree to the tails.

For days, the White House has been in a frenzy of preparation, attending to floral arrangements and food. The dinner will have five courses instead of the usual four. The main course will be lamb, served on the gold-rimmed china bought during the Clinton years.

Tailor Georges made the white-tie outfit that President Bush wore at Buckingham Monday night, but a tag on one suit reads "George Bush." Another tag reads "Rudolph Giuliani."

And how does the president look in his white tie?

"Oh, he looks like fantastic," said Georges. "[He's got] a lot of personality. Nice, good looking."

Baldrige concurs.

Despite his Texan swagger, "He is not a naive president," she said. "He is very well-schooled and very suave and sophisticated."

... Even if he doesn't always want people to know it.

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