Will Melania Trump Bring Early Aughts Excess Back to Fashion?

Melania Trump,Dress,Fashion,Christian Dior SE,Gown,Vogue (magazine),Wedding dress,Minimalism,Haute couture,United States

Many Americans got their first glimpse of Melania Trump when she appeared on the February 2005 cover of Vogue as “Donald Trump’s New Bride.” Nowhere on the cover is her name, a perfunctory detail in light of the Ring, the Dress, the Wedding! And what a capital-D dress it is. Her strapless Dior gown has a bedazzled body-hugging silhouette that explodes into ruched satin and sequins. It’s hard to tell where her enormous veil ends and her enormous gown begins. The veil obscures her face, but not her gigantic diamond necklace. Her left hand is placed just so, making sure her ring is on display. This is not, however, a timeless wedding dress. It is very much a dress from 2005. It comes from a style that, like the Trump ethos itself, is brash in its excess, proud of its wild extravagance. This thing cost a lot of money, it would like you to know. It is pre-recession style, when flagrant displays of wealth were to be celebrated. Clothes were fashionable because they were so conspicuously expensive — not the other way around. It’s a style which, now that Melania Trump is about to become the First Lady of the United States, could be ripe for a comeback. Melania Trump is no tastemaker. She looks good because she is a former model with access to high-end clothing. Like her husband’s ill-fitting suits, the most remarkable thing about her clothes is how expensive they are. She made a good Vogue cover model in February 2005 because her predilection for decadence was in style at the time. Her wedding dress was the finale look of the Christian Dior fall 2004 couture show, which featured creations so large and unwieldy that model Karolina Kurkova had to be helped off the stage after getting stuck in the exit. This was not the Dior of Raf Simons, who left the brand last year and whose weird, minimalist, futuristic designs color our recent memory of the label. Nor is it quite the Dior of current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who sent a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “We Should All Be Feminists” down her first Dior runway show in September of this year. This was the Dior of John Galliano: maximalist, romantic, and oh so of its time. This was 2000s style, an era that gave birth to every iteration of monogrammed designer purse, the very concept of “bling,” and triple-digit velour sweatsuits. It produced TV shows called, without irony, Rich Girls and The Fabulous Life (and, of course, The Apprentice). The conspicuous consumption that dominated early aughts fashion reached its peak with the Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork bag, which sold for $52,500 and was not so much one bag as it was 14 bags sewn together. As an August 2007 Washington Post article on the bag reported, this was an accessory for the “ultrawealthy” who craved “products and services that set them apart from those who are merely wealthy.” Bad taste is egalitarian, but only the ultrawealthy could afford to look truly hideous (yes, style is subjective, but just look at this...

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