There is so much written about Donald Trump. Since his announcement of his presidential run, the American media has reported on the racist and desperate attention seeking tactics that have made up Trump’s campaign. As the media documents his reign of terror, there has also been some words on Donald’s well-coiffed wife, Melania (Knauss) Trump. Many have written about her childhood in Communist Yugoslavia and her ascent from a Slovenian fashion model to potential First Lady. Others have touched on how racist Americans use her as the idea of the “perfect immigrant,” i.e. white.
What has also been discussed a bit is Melania’s fashion taste. As noted above, she has worked as a fashion model and has even appeared on the cover of American Vogue for her 2005 wedding to Donald Trump. Before Donald’s presidential run, Melania was busy attending upscale Manhattan parties and promoting her short lived jewelry and purse lines.
As Melania grew into the role as the wife of Donald Trump, she wore carefully chosen high-end outfits that blended Upper East Side conservatism with sexpot. Although she appeared on it’s cover back in 2005, the only photograph of Melania on Vogue.com is of her wearing a Dolce & Gabanna baby doll dress in light pink with tousled, Bridget Bardot-esque hair. Also ultra tanned, but not as orange as the Donald, with makeup that embraced her almond-shaped eyes, Melania often sported grandiose furs and cleavage baring dresses in clean lines and minimal, yet still expensive jewels. It was va va vroom and feminine, but still appropriate for a lady who lunched.
A Dress Fit For A Trump
And then the 2016 election happened. Donald Trump went from an egomaniac television personality to an egomaniac pseudo-politician. Melania was present for a number of Donald’s important events, but her dress at the Republican National Convention caught the fashion world’s attention.
Fashion websites across the net wrote about the dress with headlines that read “Melania Trump’s Speech May Not Have Been Original, but Her Dress Was.” Melania bought the white Roksanda gown with tufted bishop sleeves and visible back zipper online at Net A Porter.com for under $3,000. According to The Telegraph’s fashion director Lisa Armstrong, the dress is a popular look for the designer and comes in different variations every season.
Although the fact that she bought the dress online with her own money is unique, the designer of the piece was an unusual choice. Roksanda Ilincic is a Serbian-born, London-based fashion designer who has been worn by Samantha Cameron, Kate Middleton, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Since Jacqueline Kennedy’s term as America’s First Lady, it has become expected of first ladies to support American fashion designers. Melania’s choice may have been a reference to her past, both are from former Yugoslavia, but it clashed with her husband’s “All American” economic policy.
Melania’s color choice was another interesting note. Roksanda’s work is noted for its geometric and color blocked prints, but the dress worn by Melania was a white bridal dress. Similar to how Donald has praised his wife in the press, the white Roksanda dress may have been a way to project a pure or saintly image.
Melania’s Style Now
Melania’s campaign fashion also recalls a similar aesthetic as her RNC dress. She has consistently looked perfect, never having a fashion mishap. “She projects a very wealthy, privileged existence.” Veep costume designer Kathleen Felix Hager has said about Melania’s style. “If you were to open a fashion magazine, that’s what she looks like.”
As compared to her pre-election style, Melania has toned down any hint of sex with cleaner lines, longer sleeves and less cleavage, but hasn’t been as relatable as FLOTUS Michelle Obama. Some, especially her husband, have compared Melania’s fashion choices to that of Jacqueline Kennedy and Nancy Reagan. Like the former First Ladies, Melanie chooses to forgo clothing from American fashion brands shopped by Middle America, which FLOTUS Michelle Obama does well, for a high fashion figure. It would be easy to judge Melanie for choosing such an image, but she would also face criticism for dressing down and pandering to voters.
Melania’s fashion isn’t tacky like her husband’s and she is even a member of the fashion community, so it would seem she would be a sure pick for fashion conscious voters. But her connection with one of the most racist and dividing figureheads in American politics has pushed her to Imelda Marcos and Eva Peron territory. Sure she’s stylish and beautiful, but her political connections are not so pretty.