WASHINGTON — It was billed as a "black tie" affair--a state dinner at the White House for Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
But the Soviet leader, workmanlike even on social occasions, chose instead to wear a dark blue business suit, befitting his determination at his three-day summit with President Reagan to achieve progress on reducing the superpowers' awesome arsenals of long-range nuclear missiles.
And Gorbachev's apparel set the tone for the toasts after a lavish dinner that included lobster in caviar sauce.
Reagan said the signing earlier Tuesday of a treaty banning medium-range nuclear missiles showed that "while we have fundamental differences on how human communities should govern themselves, it's possible all the same for us to work together."
'Winter on the Wane'
Gorbachev, returning the toast, declared: "The winter is on the wane. The goal we are setting today is to build a nuclear-free world."
While Gorbachev opted for a business suit, his fashionable wife, Raisa, wore formal attire: a long, black, two-piece brocade dress and pearls. They arrived at the south entrance to the White House 10 minutes late as protesters across the street from the north entrance in Lafayette Park chanted "Gorby, go home!" and "Nyet, nyet, Soviet!"
The Reagans stuck with formal attire, the President wearing a tuxedo and Nancy Reagan a long, sparkling black Galanos gown with pink and white flowers on the long sleeves.
A cross-section of American political, business, cultural and sports notables joined the Reagans and Gorbachevs in celebrating the signing of the treaty. They were treated not only to a sumptuous meal but to a piano performance by Van Cliburn, who has not played in public since 1978.
In addition to the top American and Soviet officials involved in the negotiation of the treaty, dinner guests ran the gamut from actor James Stewart to physicist Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb; from former Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon to Henry A. Kissinger, and from evangelist Billy Graham to the chairmen of Ford, General Motors, American Express and Occidental Petroleum.
Also on hand were directors of the New York Philharmonic and the National Symphony, as well as former baseball star Joe DiMaggio, who brought a baseball for Reagan and Gorbachev to sign but left it in his overcoat.
Former CIA Director Richard M. Helms entered the White House with his hands clasped above his head in a victory salute. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Saul Bellow declined to state an opinion on the day's historic events, saying, "Novels, not treaties, are my business."
Industrialist Armand Hammer, chairman of Occidental Petroleum, who recently returned from visiting the Gorbachevs in Moscow, called the treaty "one of the greatest events in history. Reagan and he will be a great team." Olympic gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton declared with a grin, "I think it's about time the U.S. and the Soviets get together."
Russian-born maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, director of the National Symphony, flew on the Concorde from Germany to attend the dinner. "We must see how successfully he (Gorbachev) changed things," he said. Added his wife, Galina Vishnevskaya: "Maybe he has read my book," which is critical of the Soviet Union.
The full dinner menu consisted of Columbia River salmon and lobster medallions en gelee with caviar sauce and fennel seed twists; loin of veal with wild mushrooms and champagne sauce with tarragon tomatoes and corn turban; medley of garden greens, brie cheese with crushed walnuts and vinegar and avocado oil dressing; and tea sorbet in honey ice cream.
The wines were Jordan Chardonnay 1984, Stags' Leap Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 2 1978 and Iron Horse Brut Summit Cuvee 1984.
Van Cliburn, the first American to win the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow in 1958, played selections from Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Debussy.
Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) was looking forward to a meeting that he and some other congressional leaders are scheduled to have with Gorbachev today. "I'm going to tell Gorbachev tomorrow," he said, "that the Soviets are right about black ties."