On the world stage this past week, First Lady Melania Trump used her high fashion wardrobe to revive the lost glamour of old Hollywood’s most beloved film stars — a luxurious style of dress that has not been in style for some time.
Mrs. Trump showed her affinity for fashion and film’s Golden Age in Europe; the era of Jean Harlow through the earlier years of Barbara Streisand. For a brief period in the mid-2000s, the revival of old Hollywood style had made a comeback.
In 2004, the actress Charlize Theron arrived at the Oscars in a short, loose finger waved hairdo, sunkissed skin, thin eyebrows, and a beaded slinky dress by Tom Ford for Gucci. It was the epitome of Carole Lombard brought back to life for the new millennium.
That revival, though, quickly died as the Great Recession hit and Phoebe Philo’s minimalistic, understated bourgeois approach for Céline dominated the runways.
Since becoming First Lady, Melania Trump — and her personal couturier and style adviser Hervé Pierre — has made a point to never be minimal, favoring the opulent styles of maximalist Italian brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci and the famously old glamour ateliers of Parisian fashion houses like Christian Dior and Chanel.
For her trip to the United Kingdom, France, and Ireland, Mrs. Trump would stay the course of that aesthetic — even taking it to new heights with bigger and bolder accessories.
As Melania Trump departed the White House, she gave an obvious nod to London, England, in an orange and green printed silk dress covered in illustrations of the city’s most iconic landmarks such as Big Ben and the Tower Bridge and cinched with a green crocodile belt.
The keyword is iconic, because by the end of this international trip, Mrs. Trump will have helped curate some of the most iconic ensembles ever worn by a First Lady.
Stepping off of Air Force One has proven to be a harder task than merely strutting across the White House lawn mostly because there is lots, and lots, of wind. But, Mrs. Trump’s choice of a stiff, structured Michael Kors navy pencil skirt, blazer, and matching Christian Louboutin stilettos are a jet-set essential to combat the natural barriers of fashion.
So long as you’re going to be windblown, though, might as well go with the flow, which is why Mrs. Trump chose a silk patterned blouse by the famed British brand Burberry. The scarf on the blouse blew beautifully in the wind.
Mrs. Trump has a sense of mystery to her and her wardrobe that is long lost on the current brand of celebrity and showbiz. Will she be over-the-top or stay subtle? How does she walk in those heels? What does her shoe collection look like?
Like her husband, she builds anticipation for a moment. When arriving to meet Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Camilla Parker Bowles, we got the moment she had been planning but that her team — like they do — kept tightly under lock and key.
Stepping out to greet the Royals, Mrs. Trump finally had her My Fair Lady moment, the fashion-heavy 1964 film starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, in a custom white and navy hat by Hervé Pierre and a custom white and navy dress by Dolce & Gabbana — the Italian fashion duo that has come to adore Mrs. Trump.
The enormity of the hat and the ensemble’s strict, monochromatic color scheme with a sharp shoulder and tight skirt silhouette was not so much Hepburn brought into the 21st Century but rather Mrs. Trump reimagining what Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle would have worn in 1934.
Later in the evening, Mrs. Trump kept to the vintage-inspired code that she created for the day by wearing a slim, custom Haute Couture Dior gown fitted exquisitely to her slender figure with none other than long white gloves ripped straight from Dior’s 1952 eveningwear ad.
Even more than the hat, the gloves are a style proposition: Why don’t women wear gorgeous gloves as they did in through the 1930s up until the mid-1960s? Are they too impractical for contemporary life?
Mrs. Trump and certainly Pierre don’t believe so.
The following day, Mrs. Trump seemed exclusively inspired by Queen Elizabeth’s casual uniform of a khaki coat and her highly photographed black clutch handbag.
Riffing off that look, Mrs. Trump strutted down Downing Street in a beige trench coat dress by Phoebe Philo’s Céline paired with an Hermès Birkin bag in black crocodile skin and snakeskin Manolo Blahnik pumps.
It’s the subtle references in this look that seem to solidify Mrs. Trump’s superb attention to detail and understanding of diplomatic fashion.
In the evening, to host Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles for dinner, it was still modernity for the day as Mrs. Trump chose a Givenchy wool crepe gown with the cape sleeves that she has come to love.
The Givenchy gown was the only truly obvious choice for Mrs. Trump on this trip to the U.K., considering the fashion press has gone wild for the brand’s lead British creative director Clare Waight Keller.
Keller made headlines last year when Meghan Markle, now married to Prince Harry, wore a custom Givenchy gown for her wedding.
I must admit, Mrs. Trump’s red sequined number comes in a far first to Markle’s wedding dress.
Back to enjoying the day with Queen Elizabeth II, Melania Trump again had to wear a hat due to Royal protocol. Instead of attempting to upstage her custom hat by Pierre days before, Mrs. Trump channeled the Royals in a Philip Treacy design that had never been worn before.
Paired with a coat by the Olsen twins’ The Row, the angular hat and side part updo was nostalgic, yet again, for the days when American actresses regularly wore hats for no other reason than because they matched their dress.
While the hat has become so largely associated with the British, it was American sportswear that perfected the day-to-day wearing of hats.
In Paris, France, for the 75th commemoration of D-Day, Melania Trump appropriately wore black in mourning with the pair of thick, square Saint Laurent shades she had worn all week. Specifically, this was a wool coat by Dior — her favorite French designer to wear while in the city of lights.
Despite the rich coat, Mrs. Trump’s heels by Roger Vivier stole the day.
The Vivier patent leather pumps that feature a square toe and metal buckle had Mrs. Trump channeling Catherine Deneuve in 1967’s Belle De Jour for which Vivier designed the mod footwear that Deneuve wore spectacularly with black Prada coats.
At the end of her trip, Mrs. Trump’s high fashion wardrobe did not wane. In many cases, one could argue, she ramped it up for her departure from Ireland.
Wrapped in an Hermès silk scarf and donning a classic Burberry trench coat with Christian Louboutin black leather pumps, Mrs. Trump was a shoo-in for the darling Italian actress Sophia Loren when she landed in London in 1957 to adoring fans.
Yet another style proposition by Mrs. Trump: Why don’t more women wear scarfs to tie their hair back? Would it not fit the modern era’s “Woman on the go” mantra? It’s far, far chicer than today’s ponytail.
The scarf was actually one of the most practical accessories ever worn by Mrs. Trump as it kept her hair from getting windblown by the nearby helicopter’s spinning propeller.
After landing back at the White House, the trip that has added to Mrs. Trump’s list of iconic ensembles came to a close. So what better way than to finish off with a bang? That is, after all, what old Hollywood actresses like Elizabeth Taylor did.
Walking through the White House lawn as though it were a catwalk, Mrs. Trump wore a navy dress by Sportmax — a fashion brand launched in 1969 in Italy — and jaw-dropping Christian Louboutin stilettos that are almost more ready for a late-night disco than anything.
The 1980s-esque, New Wave design with the heels’ pink and purple and yellow streaks across a bold black and white stripe, in many ways, brought this world stage wardrobe full circle with an array of Mrs. Trump’s favorite fashion eras.
At the end of the day, it always was her teetering, tall stilettos that drew the most attention and criticism from the snobby fashion establishment. As the silver screen stars would have had, why not give them what they keep talking about?
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.