As the implications of a new US president in the White House sink in, spare a thought for the US fashion industry. After the laid back cool of the Obama’s style and Hillary’s no-nonsense Ralph Lauren pant suits, there’s big change a’comin.
Call me Miss Marple, but I think there’s a clue in the setting of this snap of The Donald with his friend Nige. If you can get over the happy Bromancers in the foreground, take a look at that decor. That is what it looks like where Trump lives. The White House style is about to rocket to wharp factor bling. Welcome to the age of Rich.
You could see it in the Trump women gathered on the podium for the Donald’s acceptance speech on Wednesday morning. Teetering on their Louboutin heels; Melania in that one shouldered white jumpsuit; Ivanka in a power party dress; everyone with immaculate hair, subtle fillers, glowing skin, these Trump Skinny Minnies are representative of a particular style tribe: Upper East Side, New York, trustafarians who lunch. Of all the things that are going to be very different with this POTUS, FLOTUS and their extended family-OTUSes, style is certainly one of them.
Physically and sartorially, there could not be two more different women than Melania Trump and Michelle Obama. Apart from sharing two X chromosones and one campaign speech they have as little in common as, well, Donald & Barry.
Michelle favours US fashion and in her years as FLOTUS drew attention to a slew of lesser known designers like Jason Wu, Naeem Khan, Brandon Maxwell. She used her wardrobe as a diplomatic (and sometimes a political) signal – was it any coincidence that she wore a Cuban-American designer, Narcisco Rodriguez (the son of immigrants) to welcome Melania to the White House?
Nor was she opposed to exploring the high street. She wore J Crew, then a go-to brand for busy, stylish women. And this, is of course, exactly what she is. She is a woman who clearly works out (those arms) but she is athletic not catwalk slim. She runs around with kids on the White House lawn. She dances. She walks her dogs. She dresses like someone who could happily break into a run at any point. And she is not opposed to a cardie, which I find endearing.
Melania, meanwhile, makes Claire Underwood in “House of Cards” look like a slouch. Put Kate Middleton in a blender, add a Kardashian or two, a dash of Victoria Beckham and out would pop Melania.
As befits an ex-model, she has a keen eye for a classic luxe label – Gucci, Balmain, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana all appear regularly. Before the election, she favoured the ‘expensive mistress’ look – split skirts, off the shoulder tops, body con dresses, coats draped on shoulders.
On the campaign trail she was demure-d down. She kept the European designers, the signature shoulder coat drape; the pastel, light colours you can’t possibly wear if you have to go out in the real world; the impossibly tight skirts. But she was back on home ground with the racy off the shoulder Ralph Lauren white jumpsuit she wore to the victory rally.
This is going to be a very glamorous, very classic, very couture FLOTUS. Frankly, I can’t see her getting on her hands and knees in that White House vegetable patch.
Will that have an influence on what the rest of us wear? Lest we forget, we’re dealing with a business dynasty, here. Check out the branding. Those Trumps always be selling. Ivanka has her own designer clothing line. (Check it out at Nordstrom). Donald wears Brioni (Italian) suits accessorised with his own Trump brand post box red ties (made in China – so much for regenerating American industry). Melania has a beauty care range and a jewellery line on QVC (worth looking at this link for the fleeting footage of Melania at home and more gobsmacking glimpses of her domestic decor). It will be interesting to see how all this interest in the fashion industry plays out. Will the First Lady appear in jewellery on state visits one night, and sell it on QVC the next day?
If the new regime’s fashion vibe catches on, up-and-coming American designers could soon be down and out as the First Lady sticks to her luxe tastes. And as for us post Brexit impoverished Brits? Forget it. When it comes to that meticulous blending of dash, flash and cash, no one, but no one, does it better than the super rich.