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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Melania Trump's dress speaks louder than her words

As an ex-model, the first lady understands the power of dressing, so nothing about her garish pink outfit should be seen as an accident

Melania Trump wore a shocking pink Delpozo dress during her speech to the spouses of world leaders at a United Nations luncheon. Don Emmert / AFP Photo
Melania Trump wore a shocking pink Delpozo dress during her speech to the spouses of world leaders at a United Nations luncheon. Don Emmert / AFP Photo

Melania Trump gave her first fully fledged speech yesterday.

Since her husband took office in January, Melania has kept fairly tight-lipped, offering only a few words in public. Body-language experts have noted her stilted demeanour and morose bordering-on-miserable facial expressions.

On September 20, however, she spoke at a luncheon she was hosting for the spouses of the world leaders, who were in New York for the UN summit, and she used the occasion to denounce the bullying of children.

“By our own example, we must teach children to be good stewards of the world they will inherit,” she said, “We must remember that they are watching and listening … As adults, we are not merely responsible; we are accountable.”

While the issue has been addressed by wives of former American presidents, the current first lady's choice of the topic cannot go unnoticed. Even before he moved to the White House, her husband had a reputation for launching noisy attacks against those who question him. These have not stopped since being handed the nuclear launch codes, and usually take the form of 3am Twitter rants or derogatory remarks at press conferences. He has called Hillary Clinton "crooked", dismissed a journalist as "bleeding heavily from a face lift", allegedly dissed a physically disabled reporter, and accused The New York Times, CNN and the BBC of peddling "fake news". He has even boasted on-camera about sexually assaulting women.

Which is all the kind of bullying behaviour that his wife was speaking out against. And, just in case anyone missed the irony, she wore a shocking pink dress while saying it.

Costing about Dh11,000, the dress is by Delpozo, a Spanish brand known for its avant-garde design. Hailing from the pre-fall 2017 collection, it has voluminous sleeves, and is a shade of pink that not so much pops, but jumps up and shouts in your face. So, Melania's decision to wear it for such a serious speech is, in itself, quite a statement.

Surely someone must have known that the shocking pink colour would clash horribly with the US flag she would inevitably be standing in front of. Someone must at least have considered how the colour would look under the glare of television lights, or how those sculptural sleeves that looked so stunning as she walked, would turn her into a shapeless mass, huddling unto itself, when standing behind the podium.

As an ex-model, Melania will fully understand the power of dressing, so nothing about this should be seen as an accident. For her husband's inauguration, for instance, she selected a dress that channelled America's darling, the tragic widow Jackie Kennedy, while when she was in her native Europe, she jauntily stepped out in a red Dior during a visit to Paris.

Which brings us back to the pink Delpozo.

Should this be seen as a passive-aggressive stance against her new role and its stifling restrictions? Or was it aimed at her husband and his bullying ways? Behind that once-lovely, now over-Botoxed face, is there, in fact, a steely intellect, skillfully plotting?

Of course, until she releases her memoirs, we can only guess at the meanings behind her wardrobe choices, but until then I, for one, stand behind her upsetting-the-apple-cart approach to White Dress dress codes.

I leave you with one more excerpt from her speech: “No child should ever feel stalked, frightened, terrorised, bullied, isolated or afraid, with nowhere to turn."

A strong sentiment coming from Mrs Trump, indeed.

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