“You will be in my thoughts and prayers, God bless you all” were the words spoken by former First Lady, Melania Trump as she and husband Donald Trump exited Washington and boarded Air Force One bound for Florida on Wednesday. While some listened to her gritted rhetoric (stock standard, lacking meaning, perhaps penned by the same assistant whom she enlisted to ghost write her White House thank you notes) most would have received the louder, clearer, yet unspoken message via the literal fabric of her make up. Her visceral truth – “If I’m going down, it’s going to be in Chanel and Gucci and Louboutin’s.”
Mrs. Trump’s second language might be English, but fashion is her first.
Throughout her four years at the Capitol, the former model and mother of 14-year-old Barron, has been consistent in one thing – looking like a million bucks in clothes that probably cost the same. Whether it was the Dolce & Gabbana she deemed appropriate for her official White House portrait or the Manolo’s she chose for visiting the site of a hurricane or the US$50,000 Birkin she toted as the pandemic swept the country, Mrs. Trump (nee Knauss) has made it clear that, for her, decadence is not a sometimes food.
So, after handing back the keys to the White House this week, she gave people exactly what they wanted. A fire-hot selection of international design that the comments sections of the interwebs could go bananas over. It perfectly completed her role as heroine antithesis; the well-dressed wife in a Pixar movie about an evil dictator with a bad tan and a toupee.
The scenes of The Trumps Pull Up Stumps was costumed as follows: for her first look (walking on tarmac, waving to the press, speaking briefly at podium) Melania chose a cropped black Chanel coat paired with a Dolce & Gabbana pencil-cut dress, Christian Louboutin heels, a Birkin and some big, black eyewear. A look that rounded out her ongoing homage to her fashion spirit animal, Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Then, somewhere mid-air, when the seatbelt sign switched off, Mrs. Trump turned from monochromatic Manhattan madame to Gucci-goes-to-Florida. The hexagon printed, wool-silk ‘Long-G’ maxi is just one of many Gucci pieces she has worn by creative director Alessandro Michele. However, it’s more than likely the pieces were all store bought, rather than offered up by the label. Michele’s penchant for displaying non-binary style and pro-life opposition is in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s anti-abortion bill and conservative views. While incoming leaders Kamala Harris and Dr. Jill Biden have made a point of choosing fashion and designers for both symbolic and aesthetic reasons, it’s doubtful that Trump’s choice of label have ever been anything more than about beautification and an F-you to the press. That infamous Zara jacket she wore in 2018 emblazoned with I Don’t Really Care, Do You? while visiting a detention centre for migrant children is case in point.
Melania and Donald have been together since meeting at a party in New York City in 1998. The Slovenian national certainly would have expected a high-flying life upon their marriage in Florida in 2005 but becoming a worldwide sensation for all the wrong reasons is doubtful. Speculation that she’s ready to press the divorce button as soon as she can is hardly surprising. Insiders galore have claimed she loathes her husband, that they “slept on different floors of the White House” and that their marriage is “strange”.
Still, she’s somewhat of an enigma. Aside from her wardrobe and her constantly meme-ified husband hand-swatting (including a most viscous snubbing on the tarmac on Wednesday) most people have remained unsure whether she’s friend or foe. Is she the victim of a life she never signed up for, trapped by a ruthless husband, or a selfish Disney villain whom played the game with complicit calculation? Perhaps a little of both.
Now that she’s left the big white castle on the Hill, though, it’s time for Mar-a-Lago Melania. Swapping the heels for flats and the heavy suits for floaty frocks. Bold-print Gucci was first port of call but what will be next? Some Versace back catalogue perhaps? Vintage Pucci or off-the-rack Balmain? All would surely suit the private resort she and her husband own. A spot that’s become a contentious issue for their Palm Beach neighbours, when the Trumps turned the residence into an exclusive club while he was in Office – apparently causing raucous behaviour and increased traffic in the area.
Or, perhaps Melania will surprise us. Maybe she’ll watch Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, leave her high horse, hit up the Bridge club and join the Bermuda-shorts-and-dip-dyed-kaftans crew. Who knows.
And what will become of Barron? Actually, where is Barron? He wasn’t at the farewell with the rest of the Trump brood. Did they leave him at the Whitehouse? Did he slip backstage at the inauguration and pledge allegiance to the Biden-Harris camp? Perhaps he’ll run for a Democratic presidency in 20 years and turn the hold Trump tirade on its head.
Anyway, what-Melania-did-next will play out with much fascination from around the world. Apparently she’s working on a coffee table book about her own personal style. It’s reported this is what she was busy doing as the Capitol was stormed on January 6. Perhaps it will act as a guide for future unintentional political leaders – What To Wear If You Accidentally Become First Lady.
Personally, I’d like to see her near future go something like this: she ditches the big orange guy, takes a pool boy lover, sells all the Birkin’s for cash and signs on for Andy Cohen’s biggest ever season of The Real Housewives of Miami.
Don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch it…