What do you do when you're Michelle Obama and you've been tasked with giving your centuries-old, Neoclassical home a contemporary spin for the holiday season? Ask your favorite fashion designers to pitch in, of course. This year, for the first time ever, The White House is unveiling a trio of rooms (from the Vermeil to the Library) decorated by none other than Carolina Herrera, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony and KENZO, and Duro Olowu. "The holidays at the White House are truly magical," says First Lady Michelle Obama, who also enlisted the services of Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events to turn the residence's public spaces into what she calls a "winter wonderland." As for her stylish collaborators: "I'm overjoyed to share their talent with tens of thousands of guests from across our country and around the world," she says. "I know visitors will be as delighted by their work as I am."
Below, take an exclusive sneak peek at how a handful of fashion's creative and global thinkers reinvented some of the most iconic interiors in American history:
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim x The White House Library
"The opportunity to decorate the White House library this holiday season has been monumental," say the co-founders of Opening Ceremony and co-creative directors of KENZO in a joint statement. "We put our heart and soul into making each ornament." The duo fastidiously turned the reading room, which houses more than 2,700 manuscripts, into a holiday forest complete with hand-painted globes, original quill arrangements, and handmade snowmen wrapped up with quote scarves.
Carolina Herrera x The China Room
"It was a great honor to create holiday décor for the White House's China Room," says Herrera. "The holidays are my favorite time of year because they are celebrated by all and it's a joyous time spent with friends and family." To achieve a classic holiday vibe, the designer installed an 8-foot tree and wrapped the central table in classic navy plaid before piling it high with vibrant red gift boxes to match the room's color scheme. And to give visitors an olfactory experience, Herrera—who the First Lady to greet the Pope back in September—framed the entryway with fresh pine and adorned the fireplaces with evergreen and eucalyptus garlands.
Duro Olowu x the Vermeil Room
"My idea [was] to create a beautiful feast for the eyes reminiscent of a warm and joyful season filled with international treasures and signature fabrics," says Olowu. The Nigerian-born, London-based designer went about this by "using the already tasteful and elegant features of the Vermeil room as a backdrop for a magical and surrealistic festive atmosphere." To help transform the space, which is sometimes used as a ladies' sitting room during formal occasions, Olowu brought in two eight-foot trees, which he draped in vintage fabrics, ornate appliqué, original teddy bears, and encrusted ornaments.
As for Rafanelli, who was responsible for bringing to life over a dozen additional spaces, such as the snowflake-encrusted East Colonnade below, the Boston-based designer says: "I am both thrilled and honored to be inside the White House helping their team bring the holidays to life. My hope is that we remind you of your own holiday traditions, inspire you to create new ones, and bring you the same joy this season brings the First Family."