From being compared to Hannibal Lector to tastelessly wearing a $2,000 dress to a Ghanaian hospital – Here are Melania Trump’s 5 biggest fashion fails during husband Donald Trump’s US presidency

Former US first lady Melania Trump, usually commended on her sartorial style, has had a few fashion disasters. Photos: AFP; @melaniatrump.style/Instagram; TNS


Melania Trump has left an indelible mark on fashion, unlike that made by any of the former first ladies in the history of the American presidency, with the exception of style icon Jackie Kennedy, with whom she has always been favourably compared.

As the wife of president Donald Trump, Melania spent her time in the limelight carefully curating her unique brand of fashion diplomacy, bringing Hollywood glamour and style to the White House. Parallel to her high-minded Be Best initiative, her sartorial choices set a high bar in luxury fashion politics.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth (centre) with then US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during a welcome ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, June, 2019. Photo: AFP

The former model, who was often seen in creations by esteemed French luxury maisons including Hermès, Chanel, Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin, also endorsed American designers such as Ralph Lauren and Carolina Herrera, as well as trendy brands like Balenciaga and Gucci.

She also never seemed worried about being fashion forward and frequently experimented with edgy looks, using her wardrobe to make silent statements on political issues.

However, our notebook on her glamorous looks, which have been documented in detail over the years, has recorded a few (albeit rare) misses. Here are five of Melania’s biggest fashion boo-boos as US first lady.

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US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk on the South Lawn of the White House after arriving on Marine One in Washington, on December 31, 2020. Photo: Polaris/Bloomberg

On December 31, Melania stepped out of Air Force One wearing a Balenciaga bubble coat in Prince of Wales checks and Christian Dior calfskin boots. The oversized coat created a visually dwarfing effect, even on Melania, who is 5 feet 11 inches (1.8 metres) tall. Paired with slouchy footwear, the outfit definitely didn’t make the cut.

Melania Trump holds a baby during a visit to the Greater Accra Regional Hospital in Accra, on October 2, 2018, during a week-long trip in Africa to promote her Be Best campaign. Photo: AFP

When visiting Ghana in 2018, many criticised Melania for showing up with a full high fashion arsenal. It was seen as inappropriate, given the poverty and humanitarian issues the region faces. Melania appeared at a hospital in a dress by French label Celine, which costs approximately US$2,000, and a pair of white pumps by Manolo Blahnik. The effect of the busy red-and-white stripe print was worsened by the matching scarf. Quite a misstep on her first major international solo trip as first lady of the United States.

Melania Trump tours the pyramids in Giza, Egypt, October 6, 2018, the final stop on her four-country tour through Africa. Photo: AFP

On the same Africa trip, Melania toured Egypt in a unisex black and white ensemble: cream suit, white button-up, black tie and a fedora. The look inspired a wealth of funny memes, prompting jokes about baddy René Emile Belloq from the 1981 Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and comparisons to Annie Hall costumes and even Hannibal Lecter’s famous “Florence suit”.

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Melania in a dress by American designer Ralph Lauren, on Independence Day, July 4, 2018. Photo: @Melaniatrump.style/Instagram

For Independence Day in 2018, Melania chose a plunging blue and white gingham dress by American designer Ralph Lauren. She paired it with an Alexander McQueen red leather belt and matching Christian Louboutin pumps. The bold accessories, although festive, did not match harmoniously with the dress.

Melania sports an all-American look by Colombian-born, Miami-raised designer Esteban Cortázar. Photo: @Melaniatrump.style/Instagram

For the 2017 fourth of July celebrations, the former first lady showed her support for domestic talent by channelling an all-American look by Colombian-born, Miami-raised designer Esteban Cortázar. While the navy and white asymmetrical dress was a sartorial nod to the American flag, the spaghetti straps and deep, cleavage-revealing neckline were slammed as inappropriate for the occasion.

Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.