Donald Trump dropped a fashion bombshell during a post-Golden Globes interview on Monday. Responding to Meryl Streep’s dignified, mournful remarks about his unrelenting assault on decency, the non-fictional president-elect said he was ‘not surprised’ by Streep’s comments as she’s ‘a Hillary lover’ – but that’s ok, because he’s so popular, and so many people want to attend his inauguration, that there are no more dresses left to buy in Washington DC.
‘We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,’ Trump told The New York Times. ‘All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.’
Could it be? Were the denizens of DC so ecstatic to welcome the Trump regime that they sent the women (all tens, no doubt) out to buy new dresses in such overwhelming force? Has Ivanka failed to fill him in about the existence of online shopping?
Like many Trump statements, this one merited some fact-checking. Which was difficult, because no one shops in DC. It’s a territory relatively untouched by fashion, at least anecdotally, until the arrival of Michelle Obama. Or rather, it’s not that no one living in DC cares about fashion, though that’s a stereotype too – it’s more that anyone who’s excited about fashion finds it worth her while to hop on the Acela for three hours and go shop in New York.
Back to the fact-checking. Hello, special occasion department at Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie… Do you still have dresses? ‘Yes, we do. We have a great selection.’
Nordstrom The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City – do you still have dresses? ‘No comment – but yes.’
CH Carolina Herrera? ‘No more comments.’ (Previously a sales associate told the Associated Press that dresses were still in stock.)
That’s settled, then. Ladies of DC, rest assured: there are still dresses!
One person who should have been having a little less trouble finding something to wear is future FLOTUS Melania Trump. Whilst some American designers such as Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs have been vocal in their determination not to dress Trump, others have come forward to offer their services to a woman who can put their designs in the global spotlight. Carolina Herrera said it would be ‘an honour’ to dress the first lady. Diane von Furstenberg said it was the fashion industry’s responsibility ‘to promote beauty, inclusiveness, diversity.’
Tommy Hilfiger, not exactly a noted gown designer, but an American fashion behemoth nonetheless, said ‘any designer should be proud to dress her.’ Italian maestro Stefano Gabbana certainly was; he took to Instagram to thank Mrs Trump for wearing a Dolce & Gabbana LBD to a ticketed New Year’s Eve party at Trump retreat Mar-a-Lago. Some took that enthusiasm as a clue the Italian design duo might be working on her inauguration look – a fashion move that would be controversial, considering no other First Lady has used a foreign designer for such a key event.
So what about Ralph Lauren, living legend and the man who has defined American style for well over a decade…? Well, she’s been there, done that, worn the bridal jumpsuit. But she did buy it from the store’s rail, rather than having a custom-fitting like her husband’s counterpart in the election, Hillary Clinton. Deduce from that what you will.
Perhaps Mrs Trump will enjoy the ministrations of a special, surprising ally. Anna Wintour, the Vogue editor-in-chief and Condé Nast artistic director, invited President-elect Trump to meet Condé Nast executives at the company’s New York headquarters last Friday. The meeting was off-the-record, so there’s no telling what was discussed – but with past Trump critics Wintour, Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter (who once described Trump as a ‘short-fingered vulgarian’) and New Yorker Editor David Remnick in attendance, it can’t have been breezy. Unless, of course, Wintour used the occasion to offer to reinvigorate Vogue’s relationship with the future first lady.
After all, Mrs Trump made something of a global debut on the February 2005 cover of Vogue. With Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley as her ‘couture mentor,’ Melania enjoyed a romp through leading Paris couture houses in search of her wedding gown. She wears her choice – a $100,000 Christian Dior Couture gown – on the cover.
Past choices for high-stake occasions show Melania hewing to a narrow vision of femininity, one reliant on nipped-in waists, high heels and solid colours. Like Betty Ford and Pat Nixon, she’s a former model, and she wears clothes well (though she may want to refrain from altering already fitted designs to fit even tighter, as in the case of a certain white Roksanda dress).
One thing is certain: Melania will want to use the inauguration to make a statement. Not least because a First Lady’s inauguration gown is traditionally a symbolic outfit, that sets the tone for their presidency – and often sparks a wider trend. Mamie Eisenhower’s 1953 pink gown, designed by Nettie Rosenstein, is said to be the reason why the bubble-gum colour dominated the 1950’s. Jackie Kennedy opted for a white caped gown; designed to stand-out in both black and white media and make her easy to spot in the sea of guests. Lady Bird Johnson, meanwhile, opted to wear yellow for the 1965 Inauguration – a cheery, optimistic colour, for a bitter-sweet unexpected ceremony after John F Kennedy’s shocking assassination.
Most of Melania’s predecessors though have opted for red, white or blue gowns for inaugural balls, for obvious reasons. She might throw a curveball and nod to 1993’s White House chatelaine (that would be Hillary Clinton) by wearing purple. Or do what no other First Lady has and wear a classic black dress, a fail safe option she’s fallen back on a number of times.