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Melania Trump Quietly Starts Inaugural Activities With Clothing That Sends a Message

Trump’s first look for the inauguration comes from the daughter of a veteran.

Donald Trump wears a blue tie and Melania Trump wears a black coat with large buttons as they step off the plane.
Donald and Melania Trump arrive at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
Photo: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

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In Washington, inaugural activities are officially underway, and with that, we get a first look at the image that Donald Trump and his family are aiming to project to the nation and the world when he takes office on Friday. As we know from Michelle Obama’s time in the White House and Hillary Clinton’s run for president, fashion can be a powerful tool for political messaging. That’s particularly true for the women of the administration, since there’s only so much a person can do with a suit and tie.

Melania Trump’s outfit for the first of the inauguration activities, which included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, was clearly chosen to leave an impression of respect. According to WWD, her simple black coat and dress were the work of Norisol Ferrari, a New York designer whose biological father is a wounded veteran.

While Melania Trump’s outfit is certainly appropriate for the occasion, it could be seen as dissonant with her husband’s track record when it comes to dealing with veterans and military personnel. These include his statement that Arizona senator John McCain was “not a war hero” because he was captured during the Vietnam War; his belittling remarks toward the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim soldier who died serving the Army in Iraq; and comments about the suicide rates among veterans with PTSD that drew ire from those who have served.

Ferrari’s press contact did not immediately respond to request for comment.

In addition to sending a message of support for the military, the incoming first lady’s outfit drew attention to a relatively small-scale American designer, a move reminiscent of Michelle Obama’s habit of using her massive platform to put up-and-coming brands in the spotlight. The connection does involve some New York society connections, though: WWD says that Ferrari met Trump through Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a senior advisor to her brand and former Met Gala organizer at Vogue who helped plan the inauguration.

Donald and Melania Trump at the Lincoln Memorial
Donald and Melania Trump at the Lincoln Memorial.
Photo: Getty Images
Donald and Melania Trump walk the tarmac.
The Trumps disembark in Washington, DC.
Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Ferrari, whose Instagram includes pictures of Bella Hadid and Demi Moore wearing her looks, sells to a small number of stores, including Maxfield in Los Angeles and Richards in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Designers have splintered on the issue of whether or not they would be willing to dress the first lady, an act that essentially gives their support to the President-elect and could bring them under scrutiny or elicit a boycott from consumers. Ferrari, for her part, insists that dressing Melania Trump is a non-partisan act.

“I don’t believe that my political affiliation has any relevance in this appointment. The only thing I can say is that my biological family paid a very heavy price for this nation and that’s why I did this,” she said to WWD, declining to specify how she voted in November.

Ferrari’s last Instagram post, from a week ago, reads “I AM PRO-WOMEN.” Hashtag: #feminist.

The inauguration will be a key moment in seeing who else has decided to take the plunge. Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld are rumored to be in Melania Trump’s wardrobe for tomorrow’s events.

Watch: These Inauguration Gowns Made an Impact