Melania Trump’s Military Look Sent A Strong Message. Should We Care?

Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
On Tuesday, Republicans reconvened for the second night of the 2020 Republican National Convention. Among the night’s speakers were Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Eric and Tiffany Trump, and many more. But it was First Lady Melania Trump who concluded the evening, with a speech live from the recently renovated (to the dismay of many a Jackie Kennedy fan) White House Rose Garden. While her speech centered around offering empathy to the “many people [who] are anxious” and scared about COVID-19, it was her choice of dress that became the focal point of the evening’s address. 
For the occasion, Mrs. Trump chose an ensemble outside of the norm of her prior public appearances: an army green, double-breasted blazer with gold buttons and structured shoulders. The jacket was cinched at the waist with a two-buckle belt of the same shade, and paired with a pressed, knee-length pencil skirt. The entire look was by British label Alexander McQueen. Her choice of shoes, Louboutins in the same hue of green as her outfit, sported heels as pointy and spiked as a bayonet. 
Diet Prada compared the look to uniforms worn by a number of fascist leaders, including Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and the former Prime Minister of Romania Ion Antonescu. The well-known fashion canceler wrote on Instagram that the look was a signal to America that Mrs. Trump is an “out and proud fascist.” And, Vanessa Friedman, the fashion director at The New York Times asked the question: “What war, exactly, was she fighting?” 
While it’s certainly reasonable to question why the First Lady, who wore a white pantsuit while making her speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention and a Tiffany blue coat and pillbox hat during her husband’s inauguration, would now don such militaristic attire, it’s also hard to know exactly what she means by it. As people across the country continue to protest against racial injustice, is the First Lady advocating for war against them? Or, was her wartime look a subtle reference to the fight against COVID-19, a topic that took up a significant portion of her speech? Or, was it neither? After all, as she made quite clear back in June of 2018, when she wore a $39 military jacket from Zara that read "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" while visiting children being held at the border, she isn’t the most empathetic person. 
But we didn’t need the Zara jacket controversy to tell us that. In 2016, she made waves when she wore a hot pink pussy bow to the second presidential debate, which immediately followed the leak of an Access Hollywood tape, in which her husband can be heard saying that he likes to grab women “by the pussy." Many thought her choice of garb was a subtle blow at her husband. Of course, Trump never confirmed it, but it’s hard to deny the potency of the message — even if Gucci’s Alessandro Michele was one of the few designers willing to dress the future First Lady. 
We might never be able to say for sure what message Melania Trump was sending with her outfit at the RNC. But to even toy with fascist aesthetics (which Diet Prada has since named “fascion”) is irresponsible, if click-worthy. Still, compared to her husband’s horrific policies, which the First Lady supports, when it comes to her fashion choices, we don’t really care. Do you? 

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