Melania Trump on Thursday picked a little-known New York designer of Hispanic descent and daughter of a wounded veteran, for her first outfit celebrating husband Donald’s presidential inauguration.
The choice of a knee-length, black coat from Norisol Ferrari for her visit to the Arlington National Cemetery was something of an inspired choice for Trump, who has been criticized in the past for favoring high-end European clothes.
A string of designers have refused to work with the incoming first lady because of her husband’s divisive politics, making her sartorial choices for his inaugural events even more closely watched than usual.
“God, I hope we can be a less angry nation,” Ferrari told Women’s Wear Daily, saying she did not agree with designers who wanted to boycott Trump.
“I am absolutely opposed to discrimination in any way. I wanted to give her her own voice. Empowering women is all that matters to me,” she told WWD.
The designer, who was born in the United States and is of Colombian and Venezuelan descent, said she was “honored” to dress Melania Trump, who will on Friday become only the second foreign-born first lady in US history.
“Mrs Trump’s visit to Arlington was particularly poignant for me, as my biological father is a wounded veteran. His experience and the lifelong disabilities he sustained, affected my family deeply,” she told WWD.
Ferrari declined to say how she voted in last year’s election, in which much of the fashion industry supported Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, and said she appreciated the exposure.
“I’m an independent designer, female-owned business, a first-generation minority woman,” she told WWD.
“Women in general don’t get opportunities like this in fashion. I’m very fortunate to one have such a beautiful muse.”
Clever choice or not, the 46-year-old former model was heavily criticized on social media for appearing grumpy, hiding behind dark sunglasses at the cemetery and arriving in Washington from New York looking funereal.
But US media did gush over the green cascading coat and matching dress worn by her 35-year-old step daughter Ivanka, who unlike Melania is moving straight to Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner, an incoming White House advisor.
Ivanka’s outfit was reportedly the work of famed New York designer Carolina Herrera, who was born and brought up in Venezuela before moving to the United States and becoming a designer par excellence of timeless elegance.