This week has been a busy one at the UN in New York for reasons, obviously, entirely unrelated to fashion. Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate North Korea, Theresa May has had an awkward encounter with Boris Johnson in front of the world’s cameras and Malala has been whiling away the last days before she starts university meeting with world leaders to encourage them to prioritise education, to name but three of the happenings.
Yet, style-wise, the UN has become a strangely important barometer for the current state of power dressing. You only have to look at the carefully calibrated wardrobe which Amal Clooney put together forher appearences there last year (think: unmissably vibrant Bottega Veneta tailoring and Gucci shift dresses) to see that women who love fashion and understand its semantic possibilities pay particular attention to the UN as a platform.
Last night, Melania Trump gave her first address to a UN luncheon dressed, as one member of The Telegraph fashion team observed, like a ‘Barbie Michelin man’. It could not have been a brighter, more visible, more ‘HELLO! LOOK AT ME’ look unless she had hired a Mr Blobby suit. In fact, her fuchsia coat dress is by Spanish design house Delpozo which is known for its sculptural, bold designs. She even paired the look with her signature deep tan and matching pink Louboutins.
Earlier in the week, the First Lady had taken a wildly different tact when she sat in on her husband’s confrontational address to the UN wearing one of her subtlest public appearence looks to date- a double-breasted grey trouser suit with a black blouse.
So what does this all mean?
Well in the pink, La Trump was visible, feminine and working the uber-shoulders to take up maximum space, an effect which was only enhanced by the fact that the outfit was mostly photographed from the waist up. It was a big moment for her going it alone- a crucial point- as FLOTUS and she was sure to make a confident splash which also underscored her personal, unashamed love of fashion.
Power connotations were undoubtedly still at play with the tailoring but this was a quieter, more businesslike choice which was perhaps selected to allow the President to take centre stage for his speech and, knowing what he was going to say, keep the spotlight firmly on him- wearing bright pink demi-couture as your husband wields threats of nuclear war would have made the heels-in-a-hurricane, er, storm seem minor by comparison.
Melania talked about kindness and anti-bullying in her pink dress speech, which many have pointed out as ironic given her husband’s Twitter tendencies. But if she’s letting her clothes do some of the talking this week, then it’s clear which outfit, and moment, she wanted us to actually remember.