What would the clothes look like?
That’s not the most pressing question raised by the libel lawsuit thatMelania Trump filed last week against the website of The Daily Mail. The suit, however, did inadvertently reveal maybe-possible plans to “launch a broad-based commercial line in multiple product categories,” conceived to leverage Ms. Trump’s position as “one of the most photographed women in the world” and make millions. That led to both an uproar and a tantalizing moment of speculation about what shape a Melania Trump-branded fashion line might take.
While some people expressed shock! horror! over the possible monetization of a first lady, Mrs. Trump’s office later clarified the issue, stating that the filing had been misinterpreted and that “the first lady has no intention of using her position for profit and will not do so. It is not a possibility.”
Still, you can understand why it seemed so believable: The move would be entirely in line with Trump family values and the belief that the individual is a brand — a belief to which they devoutly adhere, and which they have never really repudiated.
It was at the core of the Nordstrom brouhaha last week when the store was caught between those who want to boycott it because it said it was dropping the Ivanka Trump brand in response to low sales and those who want to boycott it for selling Mrs. Trump’s lines in the first place. It was the reason the president waded into the battle via Twitter. And it was behind the T. J. Maxx controversy over whether the store had instructed employees to remove signs promoting Ivanka Trump products.
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In all cases, fashion became a proxy for the lightning rod that is the Trump name — and possibly its casualty.
So when Mrs. Trump got drawn into the cross-fire, it seemed only natural. The first lady has already, in fact, been involved in an assortment of Melania-branded ventures, and she remains listed as the chief executive of a domestic business corporation registered with the New York State Department of State and headquartered at 725 Fifth Avenue. Though her office said the company was no longer doing business, it was formerly the licensing vehicle for her QVC jewelry line, introduced in 2010 (originally mentioned in her White House bio but now deleted) and her skin care line, which made its debut in 2013, both of which are no longer in existence. While that corporation is on effective hiatus, it could easily be revived when Mrs. Trump is a private citizen again.
In that context, creating Melania “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care and fragrance,” as the libel lawsuit posited, does make a lot more sense as a potential post-White House business venture for this particular first lady than, say, publishing a memoir. Especially since she has been positioning herself as something of a tradition breaker by remaining in New York.Read More...
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