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Here's How Melania Trump Actually Gets Her Clothes

Kyle Munzenrieder

At least since Jackie Kennedy was criticized for her preference for pricey European designer duds, the First Lady's wardrobe has been politicized. Yet, Melania Trump's choice in clothing has led to political eyebrow raising of the type we haven't quite seen before. Her husband Donald Trump's "America First" catchphrase and popularity among the whiter subset of the working class, has been at direct odds with Melania's preference for buying out of pocket high-priced, often foreign designed and assembled garments. Meanwhile, many American designers have publicly refused to dress her (leading Donald Trump to lash out at Tom Ford in a strange Fox News interview just days before the inauguration).

One might wonder how Mrs. Trump goes about selecting and securing outfits. The answer, as it turns out, is the same man she turned to co-design her inauguration gown: Hervé Pierre.

The French-born designer had previously worked at Oscar de la Renta and, more recently, at Carolina Herrera (two American labels run by Latin American immigrants with long histories of dressing Washington wives). Now a freelance designer and consultant, Pierre tells the New York Times that he had never met Melania until a January of this year when he was contacted about designing her inauguration gown. Apparently the two hit it off enough to the point that Pierre now acts as Melania's de facto stylist.

As it turns out, Pierre shops for many of Mrs. Trump's outfits anonymously in New York.

"I go to Bergdorf, I go to Saks, Michael Kors, Dior," he told The Times. "What is challenging is when I cannot say what it is for."

He also makes sure that Mrs. Trump doesn't wear anything that other public figures have worn before.

"I always ask: 'Was it already on the red carpet? Did somebody already wear it?' Because I don’t want her to be on the 'Who Wore It Better' list."

The fact the clothes are bought off the rack with neither the store nor designer knowing who the purchaser is pretty much checks out with stories we've heard about Mrs. Trump's wardrobe before.

Back in March, Mrs. Trump wore a black Michale Kors skirt suit to her husband's first address to a joint session of congress. Mr. Kors quickly came out to explain that Mrs. Trump was a longtime client, but she had bought the suit off the rack and no special arrangements were made with his label.

This is in stark contrast with how Michelle Obama selected her wardrobe. Mrs. Obama enlisted the help of insiders like Ikram Goldman and, later, Meredith Koop, and her wardrobe selections weren't always conducted in secret. Mrs. Obama had a tendency to highlight the work of young, American designers with diverse backgrounds—Jason Wu, Thakoon Panichgul, Brandon Maxwell.

Mrs. Trump hasn't quite embraced the same "America First" philosophy when it comes to fashion. Yes, she's recently been seen twice in clothing from Raf Simons's first collection for classic American label Calvin Klein, but there's also her noted mutual admiration with Italian's Dolce & Gabbana.

Though, it should be noted that both Trump and Obama were paying for the vast majority of their wardrobes out of pocket. Ethics rules state that first ladies can accept clothing as gifts from designers, but the clothing becomes property of the government and is sent to the National Archives. We should also note that it's likely that Mrs. Trump still relies on pieces from her wardrobe from her pre-political days as well.

As for Pierre, who immigrated to America in his late '20s, he doesn't seem to be bothered by the political ramifications of his latest gig.

"The beauty of this country is it’s a democracy, so some people want to dress certain people and some people don’t want to," he told the Times. "I choose to. If you forget about the political, or whatever, that’s behind it, the needs are so interesting to answer. Even if I’m not creating the clothes, it is very creative to consider how it’s going to be perceived. And when you decide, you divide. I’m not always right. I make mistakes, and same for her. There’s no 'How to Be the Perfect First Lady' book. You learn on the spot."

Related: Dolce & Gabbana Is Selling #Boycott T-Shirts Amidst Melania Trump Mini-Controversy

From Melania Trump to Jacqueline Kennedy, a History of First Ladies' Inauguration Day Style

For her husband's second inauguration, Mamie Eisenhower wore a citron lace ballgown - with a matching slip and petticoat - designed by Nettie Rosenstein.

First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, 1957
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Jackie Kennedy took on her role as First Lady and burgeoning style icon wearing a sleeveless silk chiffon dress, which she helped to design alongside Ethel Frankau of Bergdorf Goodman.

Jacqueline Kennedy, 1961
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Patricia Nixon took in her husband's swearing-in wearing a bright pink peacoat, paired with a mink stole and matching hat.

Pat Nixon, 1969
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Rosalynn Carter arrived to the capital hand-in-hand with her husband, wearing a swingy teal peacoat and knee-high boots.

Rosalynn Carter, 1977
WireImage

Nancy Regan looked to her favorite color - red - for her 1981 ensemble.

Nancy Reagan, 1981

Nancy Reagan made her penchant for all things glamorous known at the 1981 Inaugural Ball, donning a one-shouldered lace gown by John Galanos.

Nancy Reagan, 1981
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At her husband's 1985 swearing in, Nancy Reagan donned a blue suit and matching hat - with heaps of gold jewelry for good measure.

Nancy Reagan, 1985
AFP/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton made a major statement in a royal purple gown by little-known designer Sarah Phillips in 1993.

Hillary Clinton, 1993
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For Bill Clinton's second swearing in, Hillary went pink, in a pastel-hued wool coat.

Hillary Clinton, 1997
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Oscar de la Renta was Hillary Clinton's designer of choice for her second inaugural ball, where she a wore a glimmering, long-sleeved gold gown.

Hillary Clinton, 1997
AFP/Getty Images

Laura Bush opted for a designer from her home state of Texas, wearing a beaded Michael Faircloth gown.

Laura Bush, 2001
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For her husband's 2005 swearing in, Laura Bush went winter white in a pristine Oscar de la Renta suit.

Laura Bush, 2005
AFP/Getty Images

The designer also dressed Bush for that year's inaugural ball, crafting an ice blue and silver embroidered tulle V-neck dress.

Laura Bush, 2005
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Michelle Obama stepped outside the traditional red, white and blue color palette in 2009, wearing a sunny yellow suit by Isabel Toledo.

Michelle Obama, 2009
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Obama selected young designer Jason Wu's cream-colored, one shoulder gown for the couple's first inauguration, marking her first step as a major fashion influencer.

Michelle Obama, 2009
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Obama arrived to the 2013 inaugural parade wearing a blue checked coat by Thom Browne, cinched with a metallic belt.

Michelle Obama, 2013
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Once again, Jason Wu dressed Obama for the Inaugural Ball in 2013 with a show-stopping red velvet and chiffon gown.

Michelle Obama, 2013

Melania Trump arrived at the White House for her husband's swearing in wearing a powder blue Ralph Lauren suit that recalled Jackie Kennedy's signature style.

Melania Trump, 2017
AFP/Getty Images

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