Melania Trump celebrated her 48th birthday Thursday in the midst of a very successful week. The week just may have been her personal best to date in her role as First Lady.
Coming off a friendly visit with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife at Mar-a-Lago as the President conferred with the Japanese leader on the upcoming summit to be held with North Korea, Melania flew to Houston to attend former First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday, April 21. Imagine what a contrast that must have felt like. She went from a friendly territory into Bush country. The president didn’t attend, as this is a perfectly standard tradition.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 20, 2018
Something noteworthy happened, though, in Houston. Mrs. Trump truly came into her own. As she represented her husband she put her personal touch on the trip. She brought along two of the White House staff who also worked for the George H.W. Bush White House and felt a deep connection with Mrs. Bush.
“Mrs. Trump brought George Hainey, former head Maître D’at the White House, and Buddy Carter, a current butler, to the funeral with her as invited guests,” White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham told PEOPLE. “She knew they were very close to the Bush family and wanted them to be able to pay their respects.”
What better way to honor Mrs. Bush than by such a show of respect for staff? The Bushes were well-known for treating staff well, even going out of their way to spend holidays at the White House so that traveling staff could be with their families. During the funeral and after, Melania appeared relaxed and took it all in stride. As she left the city, she posed with Texas law enforcement and expressed gratitude for their work.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 21, 2018
Next on her to-do list was a final inspection of the preparation for Trump’s first state dinner. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigette were honored during a state visit. By all appearances, it was a love fest between the two couples.
Spent yesterday with my team checking on the final details of our first State Dinner with France. pic.twitter.com/vHoQ1rTA3s
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 23, 2018
Of note, Melania was careful to include American food with French accents during the formal dinner.
The menu has been planned to “showcase of the best of America’s cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences,” according to the White House, and will be prepared by White House executive chef Christeta Comerford.
Wines for the evening were carefully selected for the evening to both “complement the menu and embody the historic friendship between the United States and France.”
The same attention to detail was used in Melania’s choice of attire. She chose to wear French designers and as usual, she looked stunningly beautiful. This is a woman who knows how to dress. She and Mrs. Macron coordinated quite well in their looks. It was a subtle way of showing unity.
The French president and first lady arrived in D.C. on Monday for a state visit, giving Americans a chance to see first lady Melania Trump next to one of her closest style allies.
She and French first lady Brigitte Macron have a lot in common. Both women have husbands who became president by non-traditional paths, with Macron rising to prominence in banking and Trump in real estate.
Glamorous looks for extravagant dinners and galas are expected for former model Melania and former schoolteacher Macron, but everyday appearances count, too.
It almost looks like Trump and Macron have planned their state visit outfits to match. On Tuesday morning, they both wore white skirts and blazers.
That hat. The Herve Pierre hat was mentioned in every story. It’s hard to deny the cleverness of Melania Trump. She uses fashion as a statement – many women do – and the hat was a bold statement. The Washington Post called it fashion diplomacy.
The first lady’s hat was commissioned by French-born Hervé Pierre, the freshly minted American citizen who designed her inaugural gown and now serves as her fashion consultant. It was made in New York using the same fabric as her suit, created by the American designer Michael Kors, which means the hat was not a last-minute styling flourish. It was planned. And it was a statement.
Her dress by Chanel she wore to the state dinner was labeled a nod to the past and present.
Haute couture is a rarefied craft, specific to France, where a consortium governs how the term is used and defined. Over the years, Chanel has purchased several French workshops that have for decades contributed specialized embroidery and featherwork to haute couture collections. Those financial investments have essentially saved this Old World craftsmanship from extinction. The dress was a nod to both the past and the present, to craft and commerce, and to old-fashioned extravagance.
Not able to let the First Lady enjoy too glowing of a week, stories popped up about the president “only” gifting Melania with a card and flowers for her birthday. Note to the Washington press: this is standard for the vast majority of American households. Plus, her husband is kind of busy these days.
After the visit, Brigette Macron told the French press that she found Melania to be lots of fun.
“We have the same sense of humor. We laugh a lot together,” Brigitte continued, adding that she found Melania to be “kind, charming, intelligent and very open.”
Brigitte went on to address the public’s take on Melania, saying everything she does “is interpreted” and “over-interpreted.”
Brigitte added, “She’s someone who has a strong personality, but works hard to hide it. She laughs very easily, at everything, but shows it less than I do.”
Like lots of voters, I was as uncertain of Melania as I was her husband when I cast my vote in November 2016. I think they have both more than risen to the occasion and for that I am impressed. Melania’s husband had a pretty good week, too. It’s fun to see so many heads exploding in the swamps of Washington, D.C.