FLOTUS Fashion


Melania Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention.

Rachel Montgomery, Staff Writer

Politics aside, it’s no secret that the family moving into the White House on Jan. 20 is somewhat unorthodox. With all of the spotlight on President-Elect Donald Trump, no one has really stopped to consider that as public figures, his family isn’t well-known  by the general American public, especially the future first lady. Who really knows Melania Trump?

Melania Trump will bring a few firsts into the White House. She’s the first third-wife (with a 24-year age gap between her and Donald, and an eight-year age gap between her and Donald’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr.), the first to be born in a communist nation (Slovenia), and the first foreign-born FLOTUS in 191 years (she’s the second immigrant FLOTUS. Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was the first) — ironic with her immigrant-bashing-husband, right? She’s the first to not speak English as a first language (her first language is Slovenian, but she also speaks English, French, Serbian and German), a fluency that could come in handy, as it did for President Kennedy (whose wife spoke French and Spanish), the first former fashion model, and the first to have posed nude (she did so for a French men’s monthly magazine, “Max Magazine,” a publication that no longer exists).

One thing is for sure: Melania will have first lady fashion. Most of how Melania’s news coverage has been due to what she wears — but I’m not going to talk about the double standard of how Michelle Obama can’t wear a modest dress without backlash while Melania wears short, showy dresses and is praised. Most of the fashion industry will most likely not support or broadcast Melania in the same way that Michelle has been, noting that most of the industry heavily endorsed Hillary Clinton. Yes, Michelle Obama wears vibrant clothing that catches the tabloids’ eyes (she’s made a plethora of magazine covers, including “Vogue,” “Essence,” and “InStyle” to name a few), but she prominently has a beloved personality that matches her outfits. Melania has stuck to monochrome outfits that make headlines solely for their brands, without spark or something for the public to love and relate to.

While fashion and politics usually don’t collide, the industry is being forced to decide what kind of role it wants in the new administration. French designer Sophie Theallet (who is famous for dressing Michelle in the past) tweeted a letter saying she will refuse to dress or associate with Melania due to Donald Trump’s “rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia” and urged other designers to do the same. Even high-end designer Tom Ford even said he wouldn’t dress her because “She’s [Melania] not necessarily my image,” and that she shouldn’t wear his clothes to relate to the American public because “they’re too expensive.”

Most designers or fashion figures haven’t commented about the administration (or have been quietly dismissive), but designer Tommy Hilfiger told “Women’s Wear Daily” that “any designer should be proud to dress her” and the chief executive of Rag & Bone said it would be hypocritical to say no to dressing a Trump because “we have to put that before personal political beliefs.” However, Melania does sport some high-end brands and could help the fashion industry, like how she sported a Ralph Lauren jumpsuit on election night and a Gucci pussy-bow silk top to the second presidential debate — an ironic coincidence with the release of the 2005 tapes, right? Historically, the sophistication of the first lady represents how respectable the United States is (Jackie Kennedy wore Chanel and Dior, and Nancy Reagan was dressed by Oscar de la Renta). It is likely that politics aside the fashion industry will end up flocking to her in three months, because it is no longer showing who you support, but rather what you support: unity, diversity, and class.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no harsh feelings towards Melania Trump. I’m simply saying that in the same way as her husband, she is different and a new model for the White House.