First lady Melania Trump arrives before the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in WashingtonState Of Union, Washington, USA - 30 Jan 2018

LEFT OF CENTER: While the cameras focused on President Trump during tonight’s State of the Union address, the First Lady has created a different kind of intrigue.

In the year since her husband was sworn into office, Melania Trump appears to have established her own personal state of independence, increasingly drawing interest beyond her designer wardrobe. Anticipation of her presence in the House Chamber was a story in itself for some leading news agencies. The First Lady’s unexpected decision to not accompany the President to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Summit last week also drew much attention, especially in the wake of reports of an alleged affair with Stormy Daniels. The First Lady paid a visit on her own to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum here for Holocaust Remembrance Day before flying off to West Palm Beach.

While the President played up bipartisanship and called for a more unified country before the joint session of Congress, perhaps in a nod to the Suffragettes, the First Lady wore a Dior white pantsuit with a white silk Dolce & Gabbana blouse with Christian Louboutin shoes. For her first public address at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in the fall, she chose a Delpozo coat and Manolo Blahnik stilettos in hot pink — a color now nearly synonymous with the Women’s March.

Kate Anderson Brower and Maureen Dowd each penned Melania-esque columns in The New York Times in recent days, with Brower describing FLOTUS as “the most reluctant first lady since Bess Truman (who left Washington to return to her home in Independence, Mo., at every opportunity)

Internationally, FLOTUS has been a welcome sight at such global events as last summer’s G20, where she chatted amicably with her tablemate Russian President Vladimir Putin. For a spring meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, the First Lady wore a black Dolce & Gabbana long-sleeve dress with a veil. (Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana also suited her up for her first official White House portrait.) The Fist Lady also appeared to win over His Holiness, who joked with her about feeding the President potica, a Slovenian hand-rolled pastry. Trump also gave great thought to the 18 pieces she wore during last year’s trip to Asia with the help of designer and stylist Hervé Pierre.

Diplomatic dressing has been a calling card of sorts for Trump, whose G7 wardrobe in Brussels included a customized belted leather suit from Belgian designer Maison Ullens. And for last summer’s G20 summit in Hamburg, a Jil Sander dress was in order. During the First Couple’s first state visit, they paid homage to Dior’s 70th anniversary by visiting the “Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve” retrospective at Les Arts Décoratifs. Impeccably dressed throughout the 36-hour stay, Trump went with a Christian Dior bar suit for her arrival. Aside from warming up world leaders and befriending such spouses as France’s First Lady Brigitte Macron, the First Lady has used those diplomatic excursions to visit with children in schools and hospitals.

Having spoken publicly about the need to fight bullying, poverty, disease, human trafficking and hunger to protect children, FLOTUS is believed to be mapping out initiatives. In the meantime, plans are said to be underway for events in honor of Black History Month. And Team Trump’s first state dinner is a few months away, with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife expected to visit the Beltway this spring. Also on deck will be one of the White House’s longstanding traditions — the annual easter Egg Roll at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s lawn.

As for what attire is appropriate, for each of those outing, ultimately the First Lady decides. One insider said, “She is the one to decide in the end.”