From Harper’s BAZAAR
The election of President Donald Trump has broken precedent in more ways than perhaps any single article can list: the overnight transformation of a billionaire reality star into the leader of the free world precipitating seismic shifts in the way nearly every industry and corner of the nation, and indeed the world, moves ahead into an increasingly uncertain 21st-Century global context. The fashion world is no exception.
Arriving at St. John’s Church this morning for a service preceding the Inauguration ceremony, in which Mr. Trump took the oath of office to become the United States’ 45th president, the country’s first immigrant First Lady since Louisa Adams paid homage to the old guard of American fashion in a sky blue cashmere suit by Ralph Lauren Collection.
The slim-cut mock turtleneck dress and cropped cutaway jacket-with tonal suede gloves, pumps, and a clutch handbag to match-constituted a nod to Jackie Kennedy’s similarly ladylike ensemble during John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inauguration. The choice seemed to bespeak the First Lady’s implicit declaration of her commitment to this new, dignified, perhaps unexpected position she now assumes-to serving a nation that is not natively hers but which it is now her charge to represent before the world.
Today’s ceremony was not the first occasion for which Mrs. Trump chose Lauren to outfit her. To her husband’s final presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, Melania selected a demure if sobering black pussybow jumpsuit also by Ralph Lauren Collection, her clothing a reflection of the gravity of the decision those watching the candidates and the potential First Families would soon be asked to make.
“The choice seemed to bespeak the First Lady’s implicit declaration of her commitment to this new, dignified, perhaps unexpected position she now assumes.”
A far cry from the cheerful pastel and soft, luxurious fabric of today’s ensemble; but Lauren’s versatility to suit any spirit and message the First Lady might need-coupled with the brand’s nearly 50-year legacy of high-quality but multi-price-point, classic and refined clothing that is yet ever at fashion’s forefront-has already positioned him as a key player in the aesthetic and social message of the Trump East Wing. (It is worth noting that Mrs. Clinton, too, wore Ralph Lauren Collection to today’s inauguration ceremony: an ivory jewel-neck suit with a cashmere coat, a nod to suffragettes and the women’s movement.)
The universal curiosity surrounding First Ladies’ style choices is hardly new-Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Michelle Obama, and even Mary Todd Lincoln are just a few former fashion icons who were also White House residents-but the question of who would or would not dress Melania Trump on the day of her husband’s ascendance to the country’s highest office has by all accounts been uniquely fraught; particularly on the heels of an outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama, who is celebrated for having made some of the most inclusive and diverse fashion choices in modern history.
By and large, the fashion industry had thrown the weight of its support behind Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, and after election night the despondency continued to carry through in some designers’ vocal reluctance to support a Trump administration by dedicating their artistic visions to Mrs. Trump’s wardrobe.
From Marc Jacobs, who said, “I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by Trump and his supporters,” to Tom Ford (“She’s not necessarily my image”), to the more emotional Timo Weiland (“I just, I can’t. I was 110 percent behind the other candidate for very, very specific reasons, was broken hearted about the results…Voluntarily, I will not”), many designers young and old have made clear they would consider it no honor to dress a First Lady who does not, in the words of Phillip Lim, “share similar set of values, desires and ideologies” to theirs. (Donald Trump was even inspired to rebuke Ford’s refusal to dress Melania at a luncheon this week, reportedly retorting, “I never liked him or his designs.”)
Now the question becomes who will dress Mrs. Trump for the inaugural balls on Friday night. Will it be, as rumored, German-born designer Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of both Fendi and Chanel, whose namesake label is, in fact, licensed to G-III-the same American company that holds the license for Ivanka Trump’s brand? It looks likely.