NEW YORK – First lady Laura Bush hosted one of Washington’s biggest parties Sunday wearing a splendid red dress from Oscar de la Renta.

Then a second lady showed up wearing the exact same dress.

And then a third lady and even a fourth lady followed suit.

To avoid embarrassing her guests at the White House reception before the Kennedy Center Honors, Bush quickly slipped into a black lace gown.

The style slipup left fashion insiders wondering: How could a First Lady let this happen?

“If you’re going to buy from the collection, request that it be made in a color that wasn’t shipped to stores,” pointed out Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan.

Because Mrs. Bush’s style team likely bought the $8,400 dress – an embroidered tulle jacket and floor-length trumpet skirt – at a store instead of from the designer directly, de la Renta probably is not to blame.

“I’m assuming that Mrs. Bush shares a relationship with Mr. de la Renta,” said stylist Robert Verdi, who has dressed client Eva Longoria in the designer’s frocks. “But she must not have spoken with him about this particular dress.”

De la Renta’s office had no comment on the mixup.

Letitia Baldridge, Jacqueline Kennedy’s chief of staff and White House social secretary, said Jackie O would never have let that happen.

“Jacqueline Kennedy, when she was First Lady, made sure, and her couturiers made sure, that nobody else wore that dress that season,” she told CBS News.

But perhaps the other Ladies in Red got their wardrobe ideas straight from the White House – in this year’s official holiday photo that’s released worldwide, Laura Bush is wearing the very same red de la Renta dress.


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