Sartorially speaking, Melania Trump toned it down for the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday afternoon.
The First Lady arrived arm in arm with her husband, President Donald Trump (who aggressively pushed for NATO member countries to double their defense spending), looking refreshed in a summery white Elie Saab cocktail gown (limited sizes are still available for $7,450) with her beloved nude stiletto pumps. No logos this time.
The look is a far cry from the dress that originally paraded down the runway at Elie Saab’s spring 2018 show back in September. The runway version was not only incredibly sheer—paired with high-waisted white briefs and a matching bra—but was also styled with tropical vacation-ready accessories: Strappy sandals, a colorfully beaded choker necklace, and a fun clutch.
It called to mind the designer’s bridal collections, which also feature a heavy does of lace overlay. In fact, Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie wore a dress by Elie Saab for her own nuptials to Jon Snow—er, Kit Harrington—last month.
Though former First Ladies often wore dresses created by designers who hailed from whichever country they happened to be visiting, Melania hasn’t really followed the precedent. (She did, however, wear All-American designer Ralph Lauren for the Fourth of July celebrations at the White House.)
Still, we can’t help but wonder if her decision to wear a look by Elie Saab, a Lebanese designer, has any other coded meaning. Probably not, given her history of choosing not to make a sartorial statement of goodwill when on the international stage. She probably just liked the dress. Wearing a designer of Belgian descent is not required, of course, but it doesn’t go unnoticed.
Earlier this afternoon, at an event for the spouses of NATO leaders in Brussels—where she was joined by the partner of the prime minister of Slovenia, her native country—she stepped out in a design by Calvin Klein. Could she possibly be paying homage to both the brand’s American heritage, as well as its current creative director, the Belgian designer Raf Simons, we wondered? Again, with her history, we wouldn’t count on it.
Like many of Melania’s looks since the Great Coat Controversy of 2018, this look is quite simple, quite formulaic. Below-the-knee? Check. Fit-and-flare? Check. High-neck? Check. Paired with stilettos? You bet. The only thing missing is a shirt collar.
Will she wear a shirt dress to meet the Queen of England on Friday? And will her look be by an English designer, perhaps a Meghan Markle fave like Emilia Wickstead? Stay tuned.