If there was anything as headline-grabbing in 2016 as the sparring between then-Presidential nominees Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton, it was the role Melania Trump played as the potential First Lady. Not one to say very much, Trump mostly let her style do the talking — and throughout the campaign trail, editors deciphered her every fashion move, assigning subliminal messages to colors and silhouettes and comparing her outfits to those of the First Ladies before her. But come Inauguration Day, the tides shifted.
The outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election wasn't necessarily something anyone expected, and thus, backlash — against any and all Trumps, even son Barron — ensued, with the fashion industry going from covering Trump's outfits through a bipartisan lens to harshly critiquing them. And when an onslaught of legislation that didn't align with the industry's moral compass came to the forefront, the First Lady went from a talking point to a target, with the fashion media pledging to ignore her and designers vowing not to dress her (save for Dolce & Gabbana, of course).
Despite the industry's proposed negligence towards the First Lady's fashion choices, it'd seem we instead watched on, capitalizing on the Trump name for the sake of, if anything, Twitter and site traffic. After all, she was one of the most Googled people of the year (with President Trump not even making the top ten). Because Trump or not, the office of the First Lady is responsible for upholding a sort of image, and with the help of former Vogue director Stephanie Winston Wolkoff and designer Hervé Pierre, she's managed to do just that. Which begs the question: Did we pay more attention to Melania Trump — be it for her politics or her fashion (or both) — than we meant to? Did an industry that spent the last year opposing any and all things Trumpian make the most of an otherwise impossible, albeit fashionable, situation?
A year's worth of designer labels later, and Trump still has us talking (perhaps those who felt fashion could potentially learn to love her were right). Before the upcoming State of the Union address, we're reflecting on the times Melania Trump (and her outfits) had us talking this past year — and how many times she bought straight off the runway, considering how few designers have endorsed her wearing their clothes. If the slideshow ahead means anything, it's that, like a type of Kardashian, fashion (still) loves curiosity. And it'll even get you a Vogue cover, too.
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Trump donned custom Ralph Lauren on Inauguration Day, and many praised her for the Jackie O'Nassis-esque election. After a #BoycottRalphLauren hashtag ensued, the designer took an apolitical stance. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wore a Ralph Lauren pantsuit that same day.
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Clad in a Calvin Klein 250W39NYC item, Trump accessorized the $695 shirt with Saint Laurent, Hermès, and Christian Louboutin — and during New York Fashion Week, at that. The luxury-casual FLOTUS exited Marine One after a weekend at Camp David to yet another question from the fashion industry: Why does she keep wearing Raf Simons for Calvin Klein?
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And, in a sort of plot twist, Victoria Beckham claimed Trump's donning of a sweater she allegedly purchased from her shop was "incredibly flattering."
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Though this $51k floral coat by Dolce & Gabbana did not go over well, former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton have been criticized for their outerwear selections, too. However, $51k is...steep.
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To meet the Pope, the First Lady wore the standard veil, which had the Internet wondering why Trump didn't don a headscarf when previously in Saudi Arabia.
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While surveying the damage of Hurricane Harvey, a FLOTUS hat got everyone talking. The accessory was curiously timed given the particularly opposing aesthetic of her high-heeled footwear.
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For her trip to France, Trump wore exclusively French designers — see: Givenchy, Hervé Pierre, and this red Dior number. It was said to be especially patriotic for women, given that the New Look silhouette referenced a time when designers sought to empower women through their clothes, contrary to the current state of political affairs.
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Sporting another Ralph Lauren getup, the First Lady channeled Annie Hall to meet the Prime Minister of Canada. It was an ironic choice considering how little the Trump administration has done little to protect women's rights today (the suit harkens back to the days of power dressing sparked by women in the '70s). But anyway, she looked great — right?
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And this Dior number, well — it just went viral.