Melania Trump will be only the second immigrant First Lady and the first to have posed nude in a magazine, writes Suzanne Harrington
AS ORANGE Is The New Black looks to be set in the White House from January, we can only hope that the next commander in chief does not become known as President Pussygrabber.
Appropriately — or rather, inappropriately — his wife will be the first First Lady whose nude photo shoot (on a fur rug handcuffed to a briefcase in a private plane) to have appeared on the cover of a glossy magazine at the insistence of the president elect of the United States. In 2000, GQ ran the photos, because Donald Trump was “very keen” to display his then-girlfriend to the world. “We were bombarded by requests to shoot Melania,” GQ editor Dylan Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. Trump has referred to his wife as “my supermodel”, and has made it clear he considers her appearance her most important asset, which tallies with the reflected glory traits of narcissistic personality disorder; this was never clearer than when campaigning against his former rival Ted Cruz, whose wife’s appearance he publicly insulted.
Some of the future First Lady’s nude modelling work was shot by photographer Antoine Verglas, who also shot nudes of Carla Bruni Sarkozy, and with whom he compares Ms Trump, in that both are European ex models, both married presidents, and speak several languages — Melania Trump speaks Slovenian, Serbian, English, French, and German. Unlike Bruni, however, she is not an heiress, but grew up in a Soviet era tower block in the former Yugoslavia. She was discovered in 1987 by the photographer Stane Jerko, and moved to Milan.
Donald Trump has never been to Melania’s home town of Sevnica. In 2002, he visited Slovenia for three hours on his Boeing to meet her parents, where they dined at the luxury Grand Hotel Toplice on Lake Bled, the dining room cleared of other diners, Melania acting as translator. On their way out, Trump is reported to have asked, “Is this place for sale?” At their wedding in 2005, there were just three other Slovenians present as well as the bride — her parents Amelija and Viktor, and sister Ines.
Melanija Knavs, born in 1970 and a quarter century younger than her husband, will be the second immigrant First Lady since 1789 — the last one was English born Louisa Adams, whose father was American, and who was in the White House between 1825 and 1829. Melania Trump has said that as First Lady, she will tackle cyberbullying, perhaps inspired by Michelle Obama’s campaign to get the nation healthier; Ms Trump has found Ms Obama so inspirational that she recently plagiarised entire chunks of a speech made by the current First Lady. Her pledge to address cyberbullying once her huband takes office resulted in her immediately being called a “hypocrite” by Lady Gaga, who furiously criticised Melania Trump’s support for her “notorious bully” husband.
Melania — she long ago dropped the J — did not play a significant part in her husband’s election campaign as she is not an accomplished public speaker, and her strong Slovenian accent jars with Trump’s virulent anti-immigration rhetoric. It would not be an overstatement to suggest that she is not a political being; she says she prefers to stay home with the couple’s 10-year-old son Barron. Other interests include Pilates and reading magazines. She is close in age to her husband’s sons with Trump’s first wife Ivana, another Eastern European former model.
The third Mrs Trump first turned her future husband down when he approached her in 1998 at a party during New York Fashion Week, and asked for her number. He had arrived with another woman — a Norwegian heiress called Celina Midelfart (whose surname shall pass uncommented upon, despite “trump” being UK slang for “fart”).
Melania declined his early advances, but he persisted and they became engaged in 2004 when Trump proposed at the Costume Institute Gala. They married a year later, and she went to live in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, where, according to the New Yorker, guests are required to wear surgical booties so as not to scratch the marble flooring.
Melania Trump remains an enigmatically passive presence beside her husband, visual but not vocal; her role as an active future First Lady has largely been superseded by Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Nor does she have a signature visual emblem, like her husband’s strange hair and skin tone, Hillary’s pantsuits, or Michelle Obama’s famously toned arms. The only visual clue to perhaps a lurking sense of irony was the shirt she wore to the second presidential debate — a pink pussy cat bow, just after her husband’s notorious pussy grabbing comments.
Was this intentional? Who knows. If so, she has a degree of chutzpah previously unnoted.
When it comes to her marriage, Melania relies on a series of stock statements, such as “We are both very independent”. She has a skincare range that contain sturgeon eggs — imagine rubbing caviar into your face — and a jewellery line which she says she designs herself. She does not speak much about her country of origin, because she is from a communist background, a word which frightens a lot of Americans; although educated and apparently cultured, she barely speaks in public at all. Perhaps it’s because she cannot get a word in edgeways. We have four years to find out.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved