One day after decorating the White House to look like a New Jersey Pier 1 Imports for Christmas, Melania Trump set her sights on messing up a different holiday. While in London for the NATO Summit, the first lady and Donald Trump stopped for tea with Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, but not before Melania made a quick change into an Easter Egg.
The only thing appropriate about Melania’s positively bizarre canary yellow cape may be the way to describe her hemline: tea length. Very suitable for the occasion, I guess. But other than that, like many of the First Lady’s outfits, this one is a real head scratcher.
Is she trying to blend into Clarence House’s yellowing walls with her bulbous, fortress-like silhouette and burnt butter color scheme? Or is she demanding attention with look-at-me fuchsia detailing and extra-wide parachute sleeves?
Perhaps she is just hungry and biding her time waiting for yum-yums by dressing like an English treat. My British editor, Tim Teeman, says the look reminds him of the boiled sweet “rhubarb and custard,” popular during the Victorian era.
As Melania posed next to her husband and Prince Charles, who appeared to be questioning every life decision he ever made that brought him to this cursed moment in time, the portrait’s lighting did her already questionable get-up little justice.
Her mock neck, which conjures comparisons to the powder blue Ralph Lauren dress/Jackie O. cosplay she wore to her husband’s inauguration, looked like an attempt at Camelot. But the cape’s coloring and needless layers were more Jackie-as-Banana Peel. Compared with Camilla’s simple, business casual red fit and flare and dark blazer, Melania’s choice of attire seems all the more ridiculous.
Kate Bennett, CNN’s White House reporter and author of the just-released unauthorized biography Free, Melania, identified the “bold yellow cape coat” as Valentino, posting a side-by-side of FLOTUS with a runway model from the Italian label’s fall show.
“I want to create a community for Valentino,” creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli told Vogue at the time. “It’s about people who share values.” A valiant, if extremely obtuse, declaration from Piccioli, who has done much in his tenure at Valentino to diversify runways.
There was a time during Trump’s presidency that Melania’s style could be read as a coded rebellion against her husband’s policies. Take the white pantsuit she wore to his 2018 State of the Union, right after news of the Stormy Daniels affair broke, which many interpreted as a divergent feminist message.
But in a post-“I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” wardrobe, criticism of Melania’s fashion has become less generous. Sure, the First Lady might have plucked Valentino to align with Piccioli’s vision. Or, perhaps just as likely, she chose the Chiquita monstrosity because the room she’s staying in at Winfield House this week does not have a full-length mirror. (Judging from the gown’s creases, it does not have a steamer either.)
Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote on Monday that the coat slung over Melania’s shoulder in a video taken of her Christmas decorations “exudes cold, dismissive aloofness,” and the same could be said for Tuesday’s cape.
Retailing for $7,700, the coat essentially resembles a very expensive Snuggie, thrown on as if Melania won’t even pretend she’s trying.