Melania Trump's Political Power Dressing
Melania Trump is happy using her sexuality if it helps win votes - and so is her husband
If ever there were an example of two nations divided by a single designer, it is the artsy, fitted and flared, multicoloured Roksanda dress Samantha Cameron wore to depart Downing St and the tight, white Roksanda “Margot” dress that Melania Trump chose when she paid, ahem, homage to Michelle Obama’s speech. “Good God,” said my daughter, who can just about remember Roksanda coming to our house 10 years ago, to show me a suitcase of her first collection, “I didn’t realise Roksanda made such tarty clothes these days.”
She doesn’t. It’s all in the wearing. Besides, you say tarty. Millions of wealthy women say ladylike. The way Mrs Trump III dresses is entirely consistent with the dresscodes of highly fragranced clusters of affluent women across the world, from Mayfair and Manhattan to Mumbai and Moscow. So similarly do these peripatetic female members of the super-rich, ultra-elite now look and behave that they increasingly represent a no-borders nation.
While their politics generally fall under the umbrella of wealthonomics, their sartorial hallmarks are pale, easily marked, extremely close-fitting pastels or else hangover-inducing primary hues that don’t generally make more than one or two outings, limo-to-lunch heels, floridly high-maintenance hair, spectacularly youthful faces and bodies. Additionally, traits include selfie-proof make-up and preternaturally smooth skin. You know the airbrushed (and lasered and peeled) complexions I mean: you’ve seen them in cosmetics ads where highly paid actresses are rendered so unrecognisable by digital enhancement that their names have to be printed alongside.
In other words, this is geisha dressing as re-imagined by 21st-century celebrity stylists.
Commonplace as these women have become in private-jet lounges, couture salons and those restaurants where the rich congregate to sip their San Pellegrino, it was inconceivable, until about five minutes ago, that one of them would stand on a US political platform delivering every-woman homilies. True, Nancy Reagan could spend, but she didn’t have Mrs Trump’s cartoon sexiness. And yes, Michelle Obama became something of a fashion plate. But we never forgot that she was also the product of Princeton.
Melania is such a caricature trophy, it’s tempting to assume that there must surely be more to her than meets the eye. But what if there isn’t? Much has been made of her choice of white, for example. Was it an attempt to hijack subliminal associations with the innocence and respectability that her husband’s reputation is in need of?
Possibly. Or was it simply the default preference of a woman who never comes into contact with a grubby seat on the bus? Could the exceedingly curve-hugging nature of that dress be explained away as a hasty purchase in the wrong size? Or did she have it taken in the better to display her bodacious assets?
Certainly both Trumps are happy using her sexuality if it helps to win votes. According to American GQ, when Trump was asked by Howard Stern, America’s most notorious shock-jock, about his wife’s best qualities, Trump listed her ability to take her birth control every day, her perfect proportions - 5ft 11in, 8st 13lb - and “great boobs”. What, enquired Stern, with the tireless tenacity of Woodward and Bernstein, would Trump do if Melania were in a terrible car accident, lost the use of her left arm, developed an oozing red splotch near her eye, and mangled her left foot? Would Donald stay with her?
Trump, displaying the lawyerly finesse that has so marked out his campaign thus far, instantly responded with another question: “How do the breasts look?”
Assured the breasts were fine, the Republican presidential candidate gallantly said that he would stay with his injured wife. Everyday guy banter, as his aides would doubtless put it, and clearly it hasn’t harmed his ratings.
No wonder his wife blithely inserts her clothes and physical assets slap bang into the middle of every conversation about her with a focus that might make Eva Peron blush.
Interestingly, though, like her speech, Mrs Trump’s Roksanda dress was by no means original. The "Margot" dress is a lovely design, which suits all shapes, ages and occasions. It is to Roksanda (who, like Mrs Trump, was born in Serbia) what The Galaxy was to Roland Mouret - a dress she repeats each season in different colours and lengths. The version worn by Melania Trump was from Roksanda’s bridal collection. Did Mrs T realise that, or was it another little oversight?
At least she paid for it with her own money, no discount, from Net-A-Porter.com. Nor could anyone - ever - accuse her of being sloppy or of dressing down to her audience.
What we can say is that, few woman on the political stage would dare to wear anything so obviously high-maintenance. Those sleeves preclude just about every activity, other than standing around decoratively. But they do have a kind of antebellum, Southern Belle charm.
Not so long ago (although a million years in current political years, even in US politics), a First Lady- or even a putative First Lady - like Melania Trump could only exist in the fevered imaginations of mini-series scriptwriters. Exotic Transylvanian accent? Shoulder-robing (can we take anyone who shoulder-robes seriously)? A photo album that includes shots of her lying naked on a bearskin rug, courtesy of British GQ 2000? Check, check, check.
And now here she is - here they are - all too real. How did it happen? In the same way that the imaginary kingdom of Moldavia, as dreamed up by Dynasty scriptwriters in the mid-Eighties, prefigured the real-life republic of Moldova that came into (less glamorous) being in 1991, the Trumps seem to have been conjured into existence by our collective nightmares, jokes and in some cases, guilty fantasies. He is the stuff of nightmares for many. She is a fashion-watcher’s dream - the gift that goes on giving. And, in the case of that speech, taking.
— The Daily Telegraph