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Melania Trump mines American fashion industry for inauguration style

Trump inauguration: Barack and Michelle Obama welcome the Trumps to the White House
Donald and Melania Trump arrive at the White House.

Global News will have live coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration throughout the day on January 20th.

It’s no surprise that incoming First Lady Melania Trump has set her sights locally when deciding on her inauguration attire. After all, her main sartorial responsibility now is to promote the American fashion industry. Even if, ironically, her husband’s and stepdaughter’s namesake clothing labels manufacture overseas.

READ MORE: Fashion designer says she won’t dress Melania Trump

From what we’ve seen so far, it seems as though Trump will hold true to her personal style, which is defined by streamlined, body-conscious and feminine silhouettes, although the glitz (and cleavage) that once defined the ex-model’s signature have been considerably toned down.

In a pale gold Reem Acra gown for the candlelight dinner in Union Station.
In a pale gold Reem Acra gown for the candlelight dinner in Union Station. Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Her powder blue suit and matching gloves for Friday morning’s inauguration are drawing understandable comparisons to Jacqueline Kennedy’s ladylike style during her White House years. The suit, which is a distinct nod to the 1960s, was designed by Ralph Lauren who was widely applauded for dressing Hillary Clinton during the campaign (she’s also rumoured to be wearing Lauren).

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To some, Trump’s decision to wear a label more closely associated with her husband’s ex-opponent signifies a message of national unity. The ex-model also wore Lauren designs during the campaign, although they were purchased and not commissioned by the designer.

At yesterday evening’s candlelight dinner in Union Station, Trump emerged in a fitted pale gold gown with long sleeves by red carpet favourite Reem Acra. A Lebanese immigrant who is now based in New York, Acra, who has dressed the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry and Beyoncé, is representative of exactly the kind of immigrant the incoming president is eager to keep at bay.

READ MORE: Marla Maples, Tiffany Trump reportedly refuse to pay for beauty services

Though considering Trump has tapped former Vogue staffer and Met Gala organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff as her personal stylist, it’s unlikely that her wardrobe will make any strong political statements.

Her inauguration attire made a muted debut yesterday at a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where she wore a military-inspired coat and sheath dress by little-known New York-based designer Norisol Ferrari.

The designer, who sells to a spate of boutiques in California and Connecticut, and has had scant press in America, called the opportunity “an honour” and said to WWD: “Empowering women is all that matters to me. I do not discriminate whether for race, religion, colour of skin, sexuality, political affiliation. I really saw a person who is being misunderstood, who is being scrutinized. She’s a woman and a mother and I am pro-woman.”

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Melania Trump wears a military-inspired coat by New York designer Norisol Ferrari.
Melania Trump wears a military-inspired coat by New York designer Norisol Ferrari. Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg

Whether Trump will yield the power to catapult burgeoning designers into the fashion spotlight like Obama did for the likes of Jason Wu and Thakoon, remains to be seen. Although the question remains whether Trump’s decision to wear Ferrari’s design was because of an abiding respect for the American fashion industry and promoting its up-and-comers or if, in fact, she’s scrambling to find a designer willing to dress her.

Since November, when French designer Sophie Theallet (a recurring label in Obama’s closet), made a public declaration that she will not dress Trump, a slew of other designers have come forward in solidarity, including Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Phillip Lim and Humberto Leon. They are arguably among the most notable and influential names in fashion today.

Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera and Diane von Furstenberg have all said they’d be happy to dress the incoming First Lady.

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