With President-elect Donald Trump on-the-ground and running in the nation’s capital and his photogenic family descending on the Beltway today, the dawn of The Donald is upon us.
How the well-groomed first family’s personal style may filter through the masses remains to be seen. But if the highly orchestrated plans for tonight’s candlelit dinner are any indication, Washington, D.C. is about to get some New York polish. Senior adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff has enlisted the talents of party planner David Monn who has created 20-foot obelisks and Washington monuments made out of moss. The first couple’s first soiree — and Melania Trump’s official black-tie debut — will be tonight’s candlelit dinner for 1,500, give or take, with their children each bringing 20 friends.
Alec Baldwin won’t be in the crowd, but a “Saturday Night Live” set director has crafted the staging for tonight’s bash in Union Station. “The Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett has rounded up his team to help with production. Earlier in the evening, Trump supporters like Peter Thiel, Jon Voight and Anthony Scaramucci Sean Spicer are expected at a cocktail party at the French ambassador’s house.
With inaugural weekend options from Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld believed to be in the next first lady’s suitcases, the designer wattage at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is expected to be significantly amped up. And now that first daughter Ivanka Trump has formally stepped away from her namesake label, the White House-er is expected to be more diplomatic and less self-serving about her fashion choices.
Another integral factor is the overall orchestration of Winston Wolkoff, who is masterminding the flute-clinking events. Aside from being the soon-to-be FLOTUS’ closest ally, she is also the former New York Fashion Week and Costume Institute Gala frontwoman. Lauren himself is such a fan of hers, that the company wanted to hire her after she exited Vogue earlier in her career, according to one friend. Even the president-elect’s youngest son, 10-year-old Barron, is said to be getting the royal treatment from Ralph Lauren.
A New York designer, who is friendly with Winston Wolkoff, said, “She’s the whole package — a talented executive, a good girl, a great mother and a very good wife. She knows how to keep all her ducks in a row, and how to keep everything in shape.”
Running on two hours’ sleep this week, Winston Wolkoff has been ricocheting around the various venues for run-throughs. She has spent the past two months behind-the-scenes, recruiting a small army of experts and specialists to bring to realization all of the festivities. Simpatico with inaugural committee head Tom Barrack overseeing every last detail, the duo are trying to recast Washingtonian style with more of a fashion spin. As hundreds worked in Union Station, Winston Wolkoff said Wednesday, “It’s an incredible story. I’m hoping that one day we can look back at this and be so proud and happy about this. It’s magical in here.”
With her runway-worthy physique, “Alen M”-tamed tresses and Nicole Bryl-applied makeup and Manolo Blahnik stilettos, Melania Trump is an unprecedented first lady. Assured in her sense of style, fashion is not a novelty, as it may have been for some of her predecessors. Marc Bouwer president Paul Margolin, who voted for Clinton but has helped Trump with several red–carpet dresses over the years, said, “Melania’s really lovely, very kind, appreciative, gracious, gorgeous – the best legs.”
While there has been no shortage of designers going public about their disinterest in dressing Melania, some insiders say those same naysayers have been more discreet about trying to court her. One high-profile executive said, “Let’s face it, all of these people who said they would never dress Melania will be dying to two years from now.”
The Slovenian-born former model still has a luster for European and American designer labels. Along with Ralph Lauren and Fendi, Trump wore Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, Michael Kors, Gucci and Roksanda for major media sightings in the lead-up to last fall’s election. If industry buzz is to be believed, she has also packed away a few lesser-known labels for this week’s events, including an ensemble from the little-known New York-based designer Norisol Ferrari. Michelle Obama had help from Maria Pinto and Hillary Clinton had her Sarah Phillips inaugural gown in 1993, so why not? Donald Trump Jr.’s wife Lara, an “Inside Edition” associate producer, gave Coral Gables-based designer Oscar Garcia-Lopez’ business a serious jolt by wearing his vibrant dresses to the presidential debates. The jury is still out as to whether the “Project Runway” alum will once again create frocks for her for inaugural week.
Along with the thrice-married Trump offspring — Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany, and the first three’s respective spouses — Trump’s first wife Ivana and her mother Marie Zelnickova are also expected to be at the Capitol for his swearing-in, but they will bow out before any of the balls. Ivana Trump did not respond to a request for comment. A few of the female members of the president-elect’s inner circle have forged a well-worn path to Saks Fifth Avenue for inaugural week dresses from Victoria Beckham and Pamella Roland among other labels. Pamella Roland DeVos, the president and designer behind the label that bears her name, is a sister-in-law of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s cabinet pick for Secretary of Education.
Even the Radio City Rockettes are getting a cinematic opener. Each of the 33 dancers will be wearing black cashmere blend “Hollywood Wraps” with Saga fox collars before they start high-kicking on Friday after the inaugural. Saks Fifth Avenue phoned in a $45,000 order four days ago. “I think it’s quite exciting whether you’re for Trump or not,” designer George Simonton said Wednesday.
In business for 52 years, the designer said the belted coats were shipped from his Seventh Avenue showroom by way of a Santo Domingo factory contracted by his licensor Item House. “Years and years ago we made everything in New York. Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep the prices down,” he said.
Marianne Cassini will be among the 400,000 with her sister and colleague Peggy Nestor expected at the Inaugural festivities. Trump, a longtime friend of Cassini’s husband Oleg, spoke at a commemorative event after the designer’s death. The new FLOTUS’ flair, European heritage and multilingual skills should bode well with her husband’s inklings for “tabletop diplomacy,” Nestor said. “Everybody likes celebrityhood. That’s a very strong weapon — publicity and glamour. And America does that really well.”