For her first international trip since she famously donned that jaw-dropping, custom Hervé Pierre hat to meet Queen Elizabeth II in June, First Lady Melania Trump adopted the codes of fashion’s most notable icon: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
France, where fashion’s capital is located, is certainly the nation most paid homage to by Mrs. Trump. In June 2017, she wore a custom cocktail dress by Pierre, a French-American himself, with a basket-woven bodice in red, white, and blue. That same week, Mrs. Trump commemorated the anniversary of Christian Dior in red Bar suit in the fashion house’s iconic “New Look” fit made popular in the 1940s.
Late last year, Mrs. Trump wore a custom-fitted grey dress and coat designed Dior’s first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, while in attending a World War I commemoration ceremony outside Paris, France. For the first U.S.-France state dinner of the Trump presidency, Mrs. Trump wore a crystal-beaded gunmetal custom Chanel Haute Couture gown by the late Karl Lagerfeld — a vision of where Chanel had come after all these decades.
Since this year’s G7 Summit was held in Biarritz, France, where Coco Chanel first opened her atelier in 1915, what better time to look, not necessary backward, but inward at the origins of Chanel that have made it the most coveted luxury brand in history.
Even the most unstylish men in the mundane world of politics have some recollection of Chanel’s most cited quote which she supposedly said: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”
Sometimes, fashion really is that simple. And so when Mrs. Trump jet-setted off to Biarritz last week for the G7 Summit, she and Pierre chose Chanel as the foundation for her resort-ready wardrobe of the week.
Her first look featured black and white Chanel tweed jacket, coupled with white JBrand skinny jeans, white Christian Louboutin ballet flats, and a classic white leather Chanel bag clutched under her right arm.
Would Mrs. Trump take the route of Mrs. Brigitte Macron — who only wears Louis Vuitton — and choose a galore of Chanel all week for the G7 Summit? Hardly. Instead, it is the traditions, the groundwork of the Chanel fashion house that Mrs. Trump would follow for the trip.
As she landed in France, Mrs. Trump chose a bright yellow and shocking pink dress by American brand Calvin Klein matched to hot pink Christian Louboutin pumps and jet-black, acetate Saint Laurent sunglasses.
The dress’s tea-length skirt and paired back styling is a staple of the Coco’s Chanel, before Lagerfeld lifted skirts far above the knee. Even today, in the attention whore Instragam culture, less is still more.
In the evening, Mrs. Trump more obviously kept with the Chanel aesthetic in a pale ivory Gucci dress in jersey. The dress, which features subtle sparkling crystal brooches at the waist, resembles Chanel’s first “Little Black Dress” in its v-shaped front pleats.
Like the Calvin Klein number from hours before, the Gucci dress was paired down with Christian Louboutin stilettos that matched its crystal brooches. Mrs. Trump’s look perfectly complimented Mrs. Macron’s boxy and beige Vuitton dress despite offering more design and details.
Mrs. Trump’s ode to France’s contribution to the history of fashion has always taken into consideration that Mrs. Macron wears nothing but Vuitton so as to not compete with her uniform of mod dresses, big handbags, and pumps.
The next day when the G7 spouses toured through the resort town, Mrs. Trump decided to be monochromatic in an all-white ensemble in a light summer cotton Calvin Klein dress, the white Louboutin ballet flats she had departed the White House in as well as her Saint Laurent sunglasses, and a rare Hermès “Kelly” bag in white leather.
Mrs. Trump’s affinity for Hermès leather goods, and specifically “Birkin” bags, stand in such stark contrast to the “It” bags that fashion brands almost routinely release today. Unlike the timelessness of her bags, these accessors are merely of the moment, not to be worn a decade, or even a year, later.
I wonder what Coco Chanel would think of this? Wastefully necessary for fashion or just plain wasteful? Mrs. Trump seems to think the latter.
Keeping with the monochromatic aesthetic of the day, Mrs. Trump arrived for dinner on the coast in a red Alexander McQueen cocktail dress featuring a ruched crepe design hiked at one hip. Her heels, of course, were red Christian Louboutins but when they caught the light, their metallic sheen glistened.
As Coco Chanel would have it, no accessories except barely seen earrings.
The last day in Biarritz was set at the French beach. How exactly do the spouses of some of the most powerful men in the world dress for the beach?
For Mrs. Trump, it was an occasion to channel beachwear in the designs of fashion’s “King of Cling,” the late Azzedine Alaïa whose brand continues to be based in Paris and ignores the fashion runway schedule.
The sensual dress features a scalloped neckline and hem in a stark white and navy wave-like knit pattern along the skirt. White Christian Louboutin stilettos kept the eye on Mrs. Trump’s glowing tan and smile.
Mrs. Trump’s choice of such a body-conscious dress may be a bit boundary-pushing for a woman holding the title of First Lady. Can you imagine any of the last five First Ladies wearing such a dress? And yet, therein lies the charm of Chanel.
What is perceived as conservative today was quite unsettling in the early half of the 20th century, like when Coco Chanel put women in pants against the norms of the time which dictated women wear skirts even in the most active and sporty environments.
If not for her, would we have ever enjoyed the sight of Mrs. Trump in beautiful suits?
She departed in a French designer, so why not return in an American designer — contrast can be so much more exciting than matching sometimes. On the last leg of her G7 trip, Mrs. Trump returned to the White House in a casual navy and white ensemble donning a Michael Kors shirt, JBrand skinny jeans, Louboutin ballet flats, and once again carrying that Hermès Kelly bag.
Truthfully, the Chanel codes are less about clothes and more about the upholding of traditions that never go out of style. When the history books are written, will not each of these looks be appropriate for the future?
The classics might be thrown to the wolves in favor of what’s trendy, what’s hip, what’s cool. But when all is said and done, who wants to be cool when you can be timeless — forever unjudged by the time period.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.