Wearing a floral dress, with a periwinkle blue coat and coordinating hat and white gloves, the queen greeted the first couple at Windsor Castle before this afternoon’s private tea. It’s been a topsy-turvy few days for the Trumps in the U.K., punctuated by clashing political views, protesters in the streets of London and more ceremonial welcomes at historic sites. Trump’s controversial interview with The Sun broke Thursday night on the heels of a black-tie dinner hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace. But by Friday morning the President was trying to tone down those on-the-record critiques of May, commending her for “doing a terrific job” in a joint news conference.
Before inspecting the Guard of Honor with the queen at Windsor Castle, the President and May observed a counterterrorism exercise at Sandhurst. Their spouses, Melania Trump and Philip May, visited the Royal Chelsea Hospital. Wearing a color-blocked Victoria Beckham dress and beige Christian Louboutin heels, FLOTUS played bowls on the grassy lawns of the hospital with Chelsea pensioners and schoolchildren.
After a quick change, the First Lady was more formally turned out for the months-in-the-making meeting with the queen. After a similar shape in Dior’s ready-to-wear collection caught her stylist Hervé Pierre’s eye, he inquired with the house about creating a variation in the powdery color that was used in its haute couture collection. Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and her team obliged. Executives at Dior declined to comment Friday.
Unlike Thursday’s J.Mendel soft yellow gown, which was meant to be a sign of respect and one of the queen’s favorite colors, Friday’s choice of pink was based purely on appropriateness, Pierre said. As a non head of state, Trump preferred to pass on wearing a hat altogether, wearing her long hair up in a chignon. Whatever style guidance FLOTUS is given, she is said to have the final word.
With the exception of Thursday’s night’s dramatic J.Mendel pale yellow gown, most of the First Lady’s fashion choices for the European trip have been more subdued than other major photo-ops. Case in point, such understated choices as the white embroidered tulle Elie Saab dress for Wednesday’s NATO dinner in Brussels, the tan Roland Mouret dress for Thursday’s U.K. arrival, and the Burberry trench for the Brussels arrival. “There is so much expectation about what she’s going to wear that at some point it can’t always be so…” Pierre said. “Do you have a fashion statement every day? No, you wear what you like. We have to remember this when speaking about her. OK, she has a public life as the First Lady. But she’s also a woman who just wants to wear something pretty and nice.”
In general, the First Lady has also scaled back on showy statement pieces, including her 15-carat engagement ring and other jewelry. With no official duties on the docket tonight, the Trumps are expected to have a media-free dinner after they arrive at Scotland’s Trump Turnery resort for the weekend. FLOTUS planned to shop in her closet, as they say, and wear a repeat outfit — a black Giorgio Armani dress. That is not expected to be the case next week in Helsinki where the President will sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Always in search of finding the right outfit for FLOTUS, Pierre is not beholden to any designers. For Trump’s travels overseas, he tries to buy from designers or brands whose heritage is reflective of the country that is being visited, but that doesn’t always work out. “If it doesn’t come naturally, I’m not going to force myself. People will see that it’s forced, and that it’s wrong. In the end, it’s not right for her,” Pierre said.
Designers’ alliances with First Ladies — or the lack thereof — have been a bothersome topic with previous administrations. Oscar de la Renta took issue with former first lady Michelle Obama for wearing a cardigan for a private, informal meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2009. Although Obama arrived wearing a Jason Wu black duchess satin opera coat, the official photo showed her in an Isabel Toledo silk satin crepe dress with a black skirt and white bodice, and a black Azzedine Alaïa cardigan. Afterward, de la Renta told WWD’s Bridget Foley that Obama would benefit from expanding her current range of fashion advisers, particularly on matters of protocol. “You don’t,” he declared definitively, “go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater.”
During her husband’s two terms, Obama sported myriad designers and was known as a “one-woman stimulus plan for the fashion industry.” During the Obamas’ last official visit to the U.K. in 2016, Michelle Obama wore an embellished lace dress from Oscar de la Renta for a luncheon with the queen and Prince Philip in honor of HRH’s 90th birthday.