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Melania Trump picks Ralph Lauren for inauguration

President-elect Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for

President-elect Donald Trump and wife Melania arrive for a church service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington on Inauguration Day, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

The question of which designers would dress Melania Trump for Inauguration Day — buzzed about in the press and on social media for weeks — finally has an answer: Ralph Lauren and Hervé Pierre.

Say who? Pierre, who worked at Carolina Herrera for 14 years before leaving last February, collaborated with the new first lady on the striking off-the-shoulder crepe gown, accented with a deep slit and a red silk ribbon at the waist.

“It’s an honor to dress the first lady,” Pierre told Women’s Wear Daily. “I was actually lucky because over my 20 years in the U.S., I dressed all the first ladies: Mrs. Clinton at Oscar [de la Renta], Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Obama at Carolina Herrera. So I feel lucky and honored to dress Melania Trump, but this time under my name.”

The Trumps appeared at their first ball a little after 9:30 p.m., meaning she had precious little time to change from her day look: Lauren’s sleek sky blue ensemble — a knee-length mock turtleneck dress in double-face cashmere, a matching cropped cutaway jacket with three-quarter sleeves, and suede gloves — a choice many observers said recalled the refined style of Jackie Kennedy. In a statement, Melania Trump’s spokeswoman noted that she would “become America’s new First Lady wearing an American designer who transformed American fashion.”

At Thursday night’s candlelight dinner for campaign donors, held at Union Station, the Slovenian-born former model chose a gold beaded gown by Reem Acra, a Beirut native and Hollywood red-carpet favorite. Earlier in the day she wore a military-style coat and matching dress by little known New York designer Norisol Ferrari.

Lauren’s label has bipartisan appeal: Melania Trump wore a Ralph Lauren one-shoulder jumpsuit (which she reportedly bought off the rack at his Madison Avenue shop) for her husband’s acceptance speech on election night. The next day, Hillary Clinton delivered her concession speech in a Ralph Lauren pantsuit; she’d worn another when she accepted the nomination.

Who dresses the new first lady has been a touchy subject.

A clothing kerfuffle began back in November when designer Sophie Theallet, whose label is based in New York and who dressed Michelle Obama on numerous occasions, announced she would not contribute to Melania Trump’s wardrobe due to “the rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign.”

Other designers, among them Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford, said they would not want to dress the first lady, but others — Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera, Thom Browne — have stated they’d welcome the opportunity.

The “first wardrobe,” after all, is big business. “The impact of the first lady is really, really powerful,” designer Naeem Khan told The Associated Press. The attention he got for dressing Michelle Obama — she wore about 20 of his dresses, including a stunning gown for her first state dinner honoring India’s prime minister — transformed Khan’s brand “into a global business.”


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