Is Ivanka Trump Real?

Or is she the product of some artificial intelligence we know not of?


Ivanka Trump and a can of beans

By Mao Shan Wang

Ivanka Trump in the White House is a magnet of jokes, not just her father. Sometimes, I feel sorry for her, sorry that she is not aware of how foolish she has appeared to be in the eyes of the public. Ignorance, as I always say, is not bliss; it is ignorance. And this clearly comes with the disadvantage of the ‘lack of’. Oh, I am not talking about money or education, or connections, or husbands. I am referring to good judgment and, just as important for a woman of her position, this elusive quality called taste.

The latest opportunity for people to have a go at her—and her lack of—came in the form of an IG post. The picture (above) shows her posing with a can of black beans by the company Goya (not, as far as I am aware, available here), and gesturing approvingly. We now know that this post has raised question about ethics violations. Ms Trump’s photographic approbation came after the CEO of Goya Foods, a Hispanic-owned company that offers “authentic Latino food”, expressed support for her father, which itself has generated the call for the boycott of Goya products. Ms Trump inexplicably followed the picture with the comment, in both English and Spanish, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.”

Well, that was really not surprising to me. Ms Trump’s IG page fills anyone’s screen with images typical of influencers’ narcissistic bombast. This is classic KOL response. You don’t actually have to like the product (does Ms Trump even cook or have the time to?). For as long as you’re seen with it, people will be influenced. Thing is, who’s actually doing the influencing? Product or person? As The Guardian said of Instagram last year, “The picture-sharing site and its ilk are full of celebs peddling products and not being open about what they get in return”. Is it a wonder that the ethics people are after her?

I feel I was transported back to the ’50s, way before I was born. This is the advertising pose of the decade of wholesome family dinners

And what’s with that pose? I feel I was transported back to the ’50s, way before I was born. This is the advertising poses of the decade of wholesome family dinners: These are black beans. They are delicious. Yes, she was a model before, so she can be this good! The more I look at the picture, the more obvious it is to me that Ms Trump and Goya Foods are in cahoots to improve her image and popularity by eventually turning the picture into a standee that can be placed at the entrance of supermarkets. Something like the Singapore Girl cut-out in front of the Silver Kris lounge welcoming you.

And the more I see (well, just a second longer), the more I detect an unrealness about her. Was a Stepford wife (the 1975 film version) staring back at me? I, like the new-in-towner Joanna Eberhart, am beginning to suspect that Ivanka Trump is a robot created by her husband Jared Kushner in Kalorama, Washing DC, instead of Stepford, Connecticut. Even her official photo as advisor to the president is Stepford wife-impeccable. How else could I explain her perfectly-parted, always-in-place hair or her beaming eyes, or unvarying smile? Was she programmed to project herself so superbly? Does Mr Kushner have access to some secret control programming?

There is, of course, the clothes. Ivanka Trump is possibly the only woman who still dons office wear, a category in decline and almost wiped out now that many of us WFH. She has a weakness for decorous dresses or modest blouses, such as this white version for the Goya plug (which is a re-wear from the video in which she promoted her equally ridiculed Find Something New initiative). She likes matchy-matchy styles too, pairing, as in this picture, the top with same-colour skirt. And we thought the GE is over! I am quite certain, Ms Ivanka buys complete looks when she visits her fave stores, that would include bed linens and tableware. Jared Kushner must be a very contented spouse. The Stepford program works!

Photo: ivankatrump/instagram

Etro’s The First To Return To The Runway

As we say it here, die die must do



After three fashion weeks in video format, it was refreshing to view the Etro fashion show as an actual fashion show. Are we really back to pre-pandemic times? People, for whom these clothes might be enticing, were really seeing models walk by. And while we did not have the proverbial front row seat, we were watching the presentation on our screen as we always did: engaged.

But, at the risk of contradicting ourselves, this particular live stream wasn’t entirely comfortable to watch. We were distracted by other thoughts: What safe-distancing measures were in place backstage? Were the models already based in Milan or did they fly in from different parts of the world? And the guests? Was it necessary to return to what was before when now, the world is still struggling with the pandemic? Will the Etro event be the first cluster of the fashion season?

As the reality of the present is ever present in our minds, the family-owned Etro appeared to put on a brave, cheerful face. Co-designer Kean Etro told the media that staging the show was “an act of courage that comes from the heart.” Refusing to allow a still-raging pandemic to cancel their annual show, the Etros had their runway event at the Four Seasons hotel in Milan. In February, Italy had the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Europe, and the first country in the continent to impose a lockdown. Now, they are the first to bring back the physical fashion show, while “Italian doctors are warning that COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disease but a killer affecting the whole body”, according to Sky News.

Etro SS 2021 G1

And it was a rather staid affair. Held in a garden of the hotel, with the guests seated along footpaths and under square patio umbrellas. The music was played live by a trio paying tribute to Ennio Morricone. The models were cheerily decked out, but they looked glum (more than usual?), walking almost deprived of the energy usually evident in a fashion show that feature such potentially buzzy clothes for what the Etros called “a world of joie de vivre, colour and positivity”. It was hard to feel chipper when the models were not.

Moreover, we could not connect with Etro’s semi-romantic, semi-bohemian styles. It can be appreciated that there was attempt at staying atop the current gloom, but is the mood of the moment right? Known for their prints, Etro looked to their past and worked with archival patterns of the house, in fabrics that are reportedly eco-friendly, as well as those that are of vintage stock, in a welcome upcycle exercise. The result is contemporary, with hints of a vagabond life. Or as Etro acknowledges, “forever inspired by the world of travel”. Are we talking about vacations yet?

The clothes sure looked like they were destined to be on those still able to enjoy a life free of tension and anxiety. Print on print, colours that pop, shapes that are relaxed, this collection could easily be mistaken for the cruise. The women get their share of flowy dresses, pretty wamuses, and printed denim cut-offs, while the men will get their printed shirts and suits, fancy polo shirts, and all the chinos they care to wear. One other bug, it seems, that cannot be eradicated is the travel bug.

Screen grab (top) and photos: Etro