The first lady used to live in Paris
French is one of five languages Melania Trump speaks
As a young model in the mid-1990s, Melania Trump lived in Paris, France, taking jobs in the hopes of breaking into the fashion industry. On Thursday, she returned to her old stomping grounds as first lady of the United States, wearing couture Christian Dior and dining on steak and soufflé at a gourmet Eiffel Tower restaurant with the French President and first lady.
Kicking off her brief visit to the City of Light, a ceremonial trip alongside her husband to celebrate Bastille Day at the invitation of French President Emannuel Macron, Melania Trump went to Necker Hospital to spend time with sick children.
“My visit with the patients was very special, and I will continue to keep them all in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery,” she said in an official statement.
The stop was an opportunity to speak a little French, one of five languages the first lady speaks, as she entered the room with a friendly, “bonjour, bonjour. Ça va?” to the children.
Sitting at a table with the children, she introduced herself, “Je m’appelle Melania,” or, in English, “My name is Melania.”
Trump made similar hospital visits in May, in both Rome and Brussels. Back home in Washington, the first lady last visited a children’s hospital on April 28, six weeks before she officially moved into the White House in June.
After the hospital, she met back up with her husband and the Macrons for a pomp-and-circumstance-filled arrival ceremony, and later, a tour of Les Invalides.
As the two leaders departed for their bilateral meeting, the first ladies, with Brigitte Macron dressed in a white Louis Vuitton mini dress, went off on their own tour – a boat ride along the Seine and a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral.
“France is a beautiful country that is rich in history and culture,” Trump said in her statement. “I am grateful to President and Mrs. Macron for their gracious invitation and hospitality as we celebrate Bastille Day with them.”
It was clear from her growing ease and comfort on the global stage that the first lady is fulfilling her duties as representative of her husband’s administration even while controversy brews back home. Her stepson, Donald Trump, Jr., has monopolized headlines after news of his meeting with a Russian lawyer stirred up more West Wing drama.
However, insulated in the East Wing, a White House source Wednesday told CNN the first lady doesn’t concern herself with the perceived staffing issues or infighting among her husband’s team, going so far as to say she was “borderline irritated” at the suggestion that she would be involved in such matters.
Instead, Trump apparently focused on what she would wear on this visit to Paris, collaborating with her stylist, Herve Pierre, on a Christian Dior red suit.
According to the stylist’s interview with WWD, he wanted to nod to iconic Parisian style, telling the fashion site: “The clothes are important, but not only to be pretty like a doll or something. The packaging is very important. You don’t put Chanel No. 5 in a bottle of Clorox.”
For dinner with the Macrons at Le Jules Verne, the Michelin-starred restaurant on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, Pierre also had a hand in the wardrobe.
Emerging from a private elevator, Mrs. Trump had changed from her covered-up daytime suit into a sleeveless dress of red, white and blue.
A White House source told CNN that the dress, designed by Pierre just for the occasion, was inspired by a bouquet of wheat, a symbol of Ceres, the Goddess of Summer, and also a sign of good luck and prosperity.
Practicing the art of “fashion diplomacy” has also become a hallmark of the first lady’s travels overseas, wearing Dolce & Gabbana several times while in Italy in May and representing America at the G20 Summit in Germany last week in a dazzling fringed Michael Kors Collection dress.
On Friday, before returning to the United States and a scheduled weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the first lady will again be beside her husband, viewing the National Day Parade in the center of Paris as it marches down the Avenue Champs-Elysees.