During the President's visit to Paris, Melania Trump wore a beautiful Dior suit, but there was more to her choice in suits than meets the eye. Throughout their visit with the United States' oldest ally, the First Lady adhered to a themed wardrobe honoring France. She exclusively wore French designers including Dior, Givenchy, and Hervé Pierre. The color palette of her outfits throughout the trip was red, white, and blue to match the colors of both the French and American flags.
First, a little history on Christian Dior: he started his fashion house at the end of World War II and first rose to prominence during the 1950s. He was lauded for bringing about the return of opulence in fashion after a time when rationing and war had forcibly simplified style for most people (and in marked contrast to Chanel's wartime designs in activewear). With full skirts and cinched waists, Christian Dior's designs represented a post-war return to more historically traditional gender roles that would now be labeled as antiquated and restrictive. This summer, he is being honored as the subject of a vast, fashion retrospective at Paris's Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrating the fashion house's 70th anniversary. The exhibition drives home the connection between the 1950s designs as a stylistic homage to those of the 18th-century aristocracy, like Marie Antoinette, by displaying his designs side by side with those of noblewomen in similar silhouettes.
The striking, red suit worn by Melania Trump during the presidential visit to Paris featured the hallmark designs that first brought fame and success to the seminal, French designer. The suit, along with Melania's bouffant updo, was as beautiful as it was symbolic. It telegraphed a very specific idea of womanhood harkening back to the 1950s which are particularly resonant given the current state of American politics.
Since Trump has become President, there has been an effort to implement policies that would appear to return the United States to the rigid gender roles of the 1950s. The comparison is difficult to ignore. Whether Melania Trump's wardrobe choice was overt or simply admiration for an esteemed, French designer, the symbolism sends a sobering message.
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