While many worldwide shoppers are very familiar with the name Ralph Lauren, they may have run to Google some of the lesser-known designers who helped define First Lady Melania Trump’s Inaugural Weekend style.
Apart from Ralph Lauren, who oversees a $7.5 billion global empire, the other four designers Melania turned to were not blockbuster names — and all are based in New York. Hervé Pierre, the designer with whom Trump collaborated for her off-the-shoulder, six-ply crepe Inaugural Ball gown, is currently not selling a collection to stores. After 14 years at Carolina Herrera, he left the company last winter as creative director. He declined to comment on his future plans Saturday.
Shoppers will be hard-pressed to find versions of the Norisol Ferrari-designed military-inspired coat Trump wore for Thursday’s Arlington National Cemetery event. The independent downtown designer specializes in bespoke orders. In an interview last week, Ferrari said, “I did this for women. I believe the unity of women is the most important thing there is to talk about in the world because without us, they have nothing.”
Among the more widely known names were Reem Acra, a bridal designer who branched out into eveningwear and Alice Roi, another New York designer whom FLOTUS counted on a for a cashmere and wool coat.
American-based labels were on center stage throughout the inaugural weekend, thanks to the thrice-married Trump’s extended camera-ready family including Melania, his two daughters Ivanka and Tiffany and two daughters-in-law Vanessa and Lara. Vanessa Trump, for example, wore a Dennis Basso golden tan organza flounced gown with a windowpane pattern in clear crystals and emerald-cut clear crystals to the Inaugural Ball. “There have never been five very attractive, tall women between the ages of 20 and 45 or so in the White House. That’s the story. And there are equally handsome men who are well-dressed. I do think that will translate to people wanting to get a little more dressed-up,” one observer said.
For Friday’s swearing-in ceremony, Tiffany Trump chose a white double-breasted coat from Taoray Wang, a Chinese fashion label who shows at New York Fashion Week. Her sister Ivanka also gave a helping hand to a little-known label children’s wear designer — Petit Peony, a start-up based in Duxbury, Mass. The label’s designer Kate Bowen suited up Trump’s daughter Arabella Kushner for two events, and her two sons for Saturday’s National Prayer Service. (All three children wore Oscar de la Renta to the actual inauguration.)
While taking a break from Boston’s medical device industry, Bowen and her family relocated to Vermont where a case of cabin fever prompted the mother of three to teach herself how to sew, coordinating dresses for her daughters. Petit Peony’s founder was featured on Trump’s Women Who Work web site last year, and Trump tweeted an image of Bowen holding a sign that read “Multitask” with her children, as part of a campaign to raise awareness about the multidimensionality of women in the workforce.
Eric Trump’s wife Lara earned high marks from fashion observers for wearing a gold gown designed by Oscar Lopez, a winner of “Project Runway Under the Gunn.” The Coral Gables designer created a hand-embroidered gown with metallic guipure appliqués and metal stones. He also dressed the “Inside Edition” associate producer for two of the presidential debates and the family’s New Year’s Eve event. Having had his own business since 2008, Lopez designs two labels Oscar Lopez and Ozcar G. Couture for $200,000. He noted that Lara Trump always pays for her gowns, though he only charged for the cost of labor and fabrics that went into a dress that would have retailed for more than $6,500, since they are friends. “You can have a friendship but with business, it’s a balance,” he said. “Right now most of what I do is private clientele. I’m so busy — thank God. I can’t complain.”
Interestingly, Lopez was motivated more by friendship. “Exposure, you’re always going to get exposure — that you can’t avoid. When you really click with a person, it’s like love. You don’t see love. You just feel comfortable.” he said.
Lara Trump also gave Chiara Boni, a Milan-based designer with a New York office, a boost, by wearing a cap-sleeve pastel gown by the designer to Thursday night’s candlelight dinner. Boni said,”Lara exemplifies the ideal modern, young, stylish American woman, so I am thrilled that she chose to wear a piece from my collection.”
Melania Trump very well may have tipped her daughter-in-law off to the collection. The First Lady wore a floral Boni-designed dress for Easter last year and posted a photo with two people wearing rabbit costumes on Instagram.