How is Melania Trump, the only first lady who shaped her career as a fashion model, using fashion in her new role?
Thus far, she’s used a classic “pop” fashion style as a way to communicate important messages to the American people and world leaders. In doing so, she is giving fresh meaning to the term “fashion statement.”
What Does ‘Classic Pop’ Mean?
What is classic “pop?” Most of Melania’s dresses and suits as first lady have featured simple classic lines in solid colors, which create a canvas for one aspect of her clothing to “pop” or stand out as the outfit’s signature characteristic.
“Her next four years as first lady are going to be, like this gown, straight to the point, perhaps with a single measured detail,” Hervé Pierre, who designed her simple unornamented white inaugural gown, told Harpers Bazaar. He referenced the thin red band or “pop” of color around the waist of this off-the-shoulder gown.
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“The lines are as sleek as a paper cut; the curves of the skirt are fluid, yet the overall shape is sharp and intense. For me it reflects her personality,” Pierre said.
Her inaugural ceremony coat also fit this motif. Wearing a sky-blue Ralph Lauren ensemble, the lines were very simple. What stood out or “popped” was the cowl collar, which drew attention to her face and updo hairstyle. Between the two inaugural outfits, she wore red, white, and blue—sending a message of patriotism to the American people, all without saying a word.
Fashion Can Speak Political Volumes
On the first Friday of February while heading with President Donald Trump to their Mar-a-Lago Florida resort for a fundraiser, Melania wore a seemingly plain red dress by Givenchy. But as she walked across the tarmac, the outfit’s unique cape sleeves blew in the breeze, revealing a surprise twist or “pop.”
“The choice of the red dress… was consciously symbolic” and honored “National Wear Red Day, which is to highlight the importance and raise awareness about heart disease,” explained Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Mrs. Trump’s senior adviser.
Jacqueline Kennedy, first lady to President John Kennedy, also used color and accessories to speak for her. She wore a red suit to greet the Canadian Mounties, the mounted Calvary unit famous for their red military jackets.
Mrs. Kennedy also wore colorful broad-brimmed straw hats in Mexico and a black karakut hat in India. Hollywood costume designer Oleg Cassini, who custom designed more than 300 outfits for Jackie as first lady, understood that fashion statements could make political and diplomatic statements.
“I talked about history [with Jackie], the message her clothes could send—simple, youthful but magisterial elegance—and how she would reinforce the message of her husband’s administration through her appearance,” Cassini explained of the unique look he created as Jackie’s first lady style.
How Melania’s Style Has Sent A Message
So far Melania hasn’t used one designer in an exclusive way, as Jackie relied on Cassini. But she is using her clothing in a similar way. In her first solo outing as first lady, Mrs. Trump carried a dainty Japanese-style folding fan as she escorted the Japanese prime minister’s wife, Akie Abe, on a tour of Japanese gardens in Delray Beach, Florida. Melania’s colorful fan stood out against the canvas of her solid white Calvin Klein maxi dress.
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Because folding fans are nurturing accessories of comfort dating back to ancient Japan and gardens are places of calm and beauty, Mrs. Trump used fashion to display a message of friendship to Japan. She sent this tweet.
When greeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside of the White House on February 15, President and Mrs. Trump sent a message of solidarity by wearing the colors of Israel’s blue and white flag. President Trump wore a blue and white striped tie while she wore a solid double-breasted white skirt suit by Karl Lagerfeld.
— Celebrities World (@CelebritiesWRLD) February 17, 2017
Melania Is Staying True To Her Style And History
When Melania does speak publically, she uses concise language with a rhetorical twist to explain her husband’s big picture goals of economic and national security.
“The America we envision is one that works for all Americans and where all Americans can work and succeed,” Mrs. Trump said at a campaign-style rally in Melbourne, Florida. While wearing a simple cap-sleeved red dress with a skirt whose flare shape added some “pop” and conveyed a casual weekend vibe, she also stood up to her name-calling critics.
— WSOCTV (@wsoctv) February 20, 2017
“I will always stay true to myself and be truthful to you no matter what the opposition is saying about me. I will act in the best interest of all of you,” Melania declared. She was sharp and to the point, just as her inaugural gown designer described her.
Classic “pop” will likely continue to be a fashion theme for Melania, who was the only first lady to be a fashion icon before she became first lady. She’s staying true to her style and making diplomatic and patriotic statements through fashion while modeling the role of first lady as she sees fit.