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|| 24 June 2018

French Reactions to Melania’s Jacket

Anne Barone discusses reactions of two French fashion publications to the I-Don't-Care Jacket Worn by Melania Trump.

The fashion story of the week in France, as in the USA, was the jacket worn by First Lady Melania Trump departing and arriving back in Washington from her South Texas visit in connection with the immigrant children separated from their parents.

To give you a couple of samples from the French fashion media, both Madame Figaro and French Elle reported the known facts in the case. (What we read in numerous media reports in the English language media.)

Both Madame Figaro and French Elle suggested three possible interpretations for the message Melania Trump was sending. First, the official statement by Melania Trump’s spokeswoman: No hidden message. Just a jacket.

Second possible interpretation of the jacket message: The tweet by Donald Trump that his wife was sending a message to the media that she does not care what they write about her.

Third, that the message was intended by the first lady for her husband. On this subject the French Elle article quotes from the Vanessa Friedman article in The New York Times though it doesn't add its own argument. But the Madame Figaro article did have a definite opinion about the message.

French Obsession With Signs of Discord

Since Donald Trump took office, the French media have been somewhat obsessed with the idea of discord between the American president and his European-born wife. Some French journalists have been quick to interpret swatted hands, forced smiles, cancellation of appearances at major events, and the like as signs of serious trouble between the couple.

In this vein, Madame Figaro, in the magazine’s article about the jacket and its possible message, titled their piece somewhat melodramatically “Melania Trump, l'heure de la vengeance a sonné. Melania Trump: the hour of vengeance has come.” In a later section of the article subtitled “Melania: the awakening of strength” the article concludes:

And what if the khaki jacket with message came to corroborate the many proofs of the unthinkable? Is Melania Trump on the verge of rupture [to the marriage], to the point of jeopardizing the 45th US president's term of office? A hypothesis that might strangely justify the words of Michael Wolff in his incendiary Fire And Fury, released in January in the United States. In this book, Donald Trump's wife is described as a woman who never wanted to become a First Lady, never supported her husband's candidacy and "cried the night of his election". In short, if Stormy is "stormy", Melania might well be “foudroyante.”

In French, foudre is lightning. “Foudroyante” is used to express the idea of something swift and devastating. Like a bolt of lightning.

This hypothesis by the writer of the Madame Figaro article seems to ignore the fact that the wife of recent French president Nicholas Sarkozy divorced him not long after he took office. That certainly did not bring an end to his presidency.

In any case, in the unlikely event that Melania Trump would leave her first lady position, from what we have seen thus far of the resiliency of this president, it also seems unlikely that this action, should it occur, would have any impact on her husband's term of service.

But it will be interesting to see if the American first lady wears additional message garments.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

Image : Zara I-Don't-Care Jacket