On Sunday night at the G7 Summit, French First Lady Brigitte Macron may have turned herself into a human disco ball in her silver sequined minidress, but Melania Trump shone more brightly.
Dressed in a fitted, crimson Alexander McQueen pencil frock, Melania gave Canadian leader Justin Trudeau a European greeting very seen around the world.
The air kiss looked entirely innocent (for France), but nonetheless set off a fury of cheeky tweets claiming the First Lady looked lovestruck when nuzzling up to Trudeau.
With its sharp pencil skirt and gathered waist, her sheath called to mind Ivanka Trump’s now-defunct line of clothes for “women who work.” (Two years ago, the internet decided that Ivanka was also not immune to Trudeau's charms, when a photo of her staring dreamily at the PM went viral.)
But Melania’s Trudeau moment was not the only thing that stood out from the beachfront photo call. The First Lady is no stranger to attention-grabbing outfits, and her fiery red dress screamed against a sea of mostly black suit-clad bodies.
And if you were looking to make mischievous meme mileage from a facial expression, nothing helps scream "swoon" louder accessory-wise than a red dress, the color of passion and romance; think Julia Roberts’ evening gown in Pretty Woman.
Perhaps in an attempt to distract us from her husband’s incendiary views on the climate crisis or trade warfare, Melania has been front and center at G7 appearances in a revolving set of designer looks. It began when she stepped off Air Force One in Biarritz, France in a sartorial acid trip, with sunbursts of pink and white blazoned over her yellow denim dress.
The tea-length midi dress was fit for a saucy elementary school art teacher, or at least one with a trust fund, as it cost just over $1000. As Melania is known to do, the First Lady shielded her eyes with oversized black glasses, and finished off her look with fuchsia stilettos.
She disembarked onto the tarmac in Biarritz looking glamorous, but confused, next to her pouting husband and a row of armed guards with huge guns. It could have been a shot from a dystopian-themed Vogue cover, if only editor-in-chief Anna Wintour would acknowledge Melania's existence.
Melania plucked the kaleidoscope Calvin Klein dress from the label's now-shuttered designer line, 205W39NYC by Raf Simons. Though the high-necked, low-hemmed silhouette skewed toward Melania’s preference for armor-like dressing that betrays nothing, its rupture of neon colors went against her usual, joyless palette of standard black and whites.
With its tie-dye, she could have been paying homage to Woodstock, a week after the historic festival’s 50th anniversary.
But just hours later, during a photo opp with French president Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, Melania ditched the boomer promise of peace and love, looking very Reagan-era in a beige, pleated Gucci dress with a rhinestone belt fit for a Dynasty dinner party. Fitting, as Melania wore the outfit opposite Brigitte, who looked very Krystle Carrington in buttoned-up beige business casual.
The next day, Brigitte Macron invited Melania, along with other dignitaries’ wives, on a very French field trip of wine tasting and pastry sampling. Predictably, there was plenty of gesturing to tiny cakes and bottles of chacoli. Melania, statement glasses on, stared longingly at a pile of Espelette peppers like a very hungry Carmen Sandiego.
Per WWD, Melania also opted for Raf Simons’ number from a 2017 Calvin Klein collection, basically a pristine white version of the same shape as her tie-dye one the day before.
Simons, a Belgian designer once touted as the king of cool by fans such as Kanye West and Rihanna, abruptly left the line last year. (A few months later, the designer branch of Calvin Klein shuttered, leaving around 100 staff out of jobs.)
Simons’ past New York Fashion Week shows were near-religious experiences for certain admirers. Julianne Moore admitted one nearly moved her to tears, and powerhouse critic Cathy Horyn wrote that his 2018 presentation “dwarfs every other brand this week.”
In every collection, Simons fetishized the European idea of American culture—ripped jeans, movie references, even a flag-printed skirt Donald Trump would no doubt love to hug. In that sense, Melania’s embrace of Simons’ work, even if it may be a few seasons old, reads like a heavy-handed nod to diplomatic dressing.
Though, of course, fashion moves fast, and Simons is no longer the new designer on the block. Melania is late to the party, and took no risk championing such an established name.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, by contrast, regularly wore true up-and-comers like Jason Wu, Cushnie et Ochs, and Brandon Maxwell. (All household names now, due no doubt in part to her endorsement.)
Monday again paired Melania with Brigitte, as both hit the beach on Cote des Basques to meet a group of young surfers. Well, they hit close to the beach, as Melania’s ivory Louboutins and Brigitte’s chunky, logomania Vuitton heels were not sand-appropriate.
CNN’s Kate Bennett tweeted that Melania chose a Azzedine Alaia fit-and-flare, with a white bodice that evolved into a scalloped blue print just below the waist. It costs just over $4500, and is onsale at Net-a-Porter for anyone wanting to channel a murderous, honeymooning film noir femme fatale.
A reporter later asked Donald Trump if he would make good on his threat to impose sanctions on French wine, considering that Melania had sampled some during the G7 summit. Trump ignored the direct question and only said, “I can confirm that the first lady loved your French wine. She loved your French wine. So thank you very much.”
In a group photo taken of Melania toasting, the first lady strained a smile, as if looking for an underground tunnel escape route from the wine cellar. Or maybe back to the beach with Justin Trudeau.