Melania Trump wants to cash in on her First Lady status with fashion and cosmetics collections, but should we really be surprised?
Melania is the Trump family member facing criticism today, after it has emerged that she was planning to use her position as First Lady as a "unique, one-in-a-lifetime opportunity... to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories."
Mrs Trump is suing the corporation that publishes the Daily Mail's website in New York for $150 million for reporting rumours that she worked as an escort. The story has since been retracted, but on Monday the first lady’s lawyers argued that it had prevented her from expanding her business.
The lawsuit states that "as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model, brand spokesperson and successful businesswoman" Melania could "have garnered multi-million dollar business relationships for a multi-year term during which [she would be] one of the most photographed women in the world." Apparel, accessories, jewellery, cosmetics, hair care and fragrance are all listed as possible areas which Melania Trump The Brand could extend into.
Perhaps unsurprisingly the news that Mrs Trump was intending to sell shoes, perfume, jewellery and cosmetics while First Lady has sparked criticism. After all, it's not quite the heartwarming declaration to dedicate herself to charity work and needy causes we have seen from previous incumbents embarking on their time in the White House.
And yet, as blatant, self-serving and eyebrow-raising as this revelation may be, it is hardly surprising. Melania Trump has spent more than ten years doing what Trumps do best: turning herself into a lucrative brand. From the carefully strategised decision to give herself a credible fashion profile by inviting American Vogue along on her trip to the Paris couture shows to select her wedding dress (she plumped for a $100,000 Christian Dior number) to the launch of her eponymous jewellery line in 2010 which was sold via QVC, Trump has already made serious inroads in profiting from her ultra-groomed, glossy and unashamedly expensive personal style. So should we in fact be interpreting her honesty that she'd continue to cash in during her White House years as (almost) refreshing?
Melania will certainly have been acutely aware that as First Lady she would be following in the footsteps of women like Jacqueline Kennedy, Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama who became style icons thanks to their savvy use of fashion during their tenures as First Ladies. Analysis by Professor David Yermack at the Stern School of Business found that Michelle Obama could add $38 million to the stock price of a brand she wore, with a $2.7 billion cumulative appreciation in stock prices over time at labels she supported. And we all know the enduring legacy of Kennedy's signature pillbox hats and boxy skirt suits....