First lady Michelle Obama waits for the arrival of China's President Hu Jintao, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, at the White House in Washington.

*Michelle Obama is getting just as many headlines for the dress she wore at Wednesday’s White House state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao than the actual dinner itself.

The First Lady wore a bright red, silk organza gown designed by Alexander McQueen’s new creative director, Sarah Burton.

Below are some photos and a sampling of reviews…

On the Runway, the fashion blog of The New York Times, gives the dress a thumbs-up: “Her choice had just enough pomp to signal the importance of this state dinner.”

The Los Angeles Times’ fashion blog, All the Rage, is emphatic in its praise, saying, “If you thought the first lady’s fashion sense was mellowing out, think again. … The asymmetrical neckline is incredible, and the red color no doubt a nod to China.”

U.K. paper The Guardian talked to Kate Betts, author of a book on the first lady’s fashion style, who parses the selection’s political implications: “Red is an obvious colour because [it is a symbol of good luck in China], but you’d expect an American or an American-based designer for an occasion like this. But [Obama] is always surprising, and that’s why we’re all riveted by her.”

The D.C.-based publication The Hill proclaims that Obama’s dress was “stunning” and “wow[ed]” the crowd.

As for the politics surrounding the dinner, Obama and Hu have been sparring over human rights but smoothed over sharp differences by making an economic and strategic case for working together. Hu did make the unusual comment for a Chinese leader that “a lot” remained to be done on freedoms in China, but pointedly did not share Obama’s view that basic human rights were “universal.”

Below, video highlights from the state dinner…