It’s Over Now, Ivanka

Time for her to leave Washington and retire her power suits and modest dresses, and that fake smile?

By Emma Ng

The stitches have come apart for the second term of the Trump presidency and daughter-to-the-rescue Ivana Marie “Ivanka” Trump is unable to re-stitch it because, despite all the attempts at repairing her father’s irreparable wrong doings, I doubt she has ever held a needle her entire life. The sharpest thing she plays with, it appears, are her stilettos. Mending does not seem to be part of her skill set, or she could have tried to repair the social snags caused by the president’s poor (or non-existent) policies. The many white suits she has worn during her father’s tenure at the White House only showed more stains than a butcher’s apron when she proved to be complicit in her dad’s divisive and dangerous decisions. The senior advisor, it seems to me, has not been advising. Much.

Ms Trump, also the standby FLOTUS, was never qualified to take up the post in the White House, even if she was, reportedly, not remunerated. Of course, being unqualified has never been an issue. In 2011, she launched her namesake fashion label even when she had never been in the business of designing or selling clothes. (Her modelling—if you can call it that—‘experience’ was expendable.) I doubt many remember what it was she peddled; I certainly don’t. She told InStyle that year, “I wanted to build a strong and sustainable collection that is not overly trend-conscious”, adding, “I wanted the price points to be accessible, but ultimately we’re in the business of luxury, and these looks are consistent with that larger messaging.” If that was not attributed to Ms Trump, I would have thought it came from a JC Penney’s buyer.

In July 2018, due to pressures from ethical concerns of the first daughter setting up shop next to her father, Ivanka Trump the fashion label didn’t survive. That could have foretold her political ambition in 2020, or her chances of unrestricted access to the White House, but all the pussy bows she had fastened to her neck might have limited oxygen going to her brain. And all the floral prints she has been wearing were no tea leaves to be read. The pretty penny she has spent on her wardrobe to get her not only to the corridors of the White House and the power nucleus of Washington, but also the world stage, where she had been snubbed, has not been good investment—she won’t be able to continue as the administration’s sweet-faced supremo to defend and blandish the president. A deflated ball, as we know, loses its bounce.

For all the talk and rows of magazine columns that noted fashion has changed, Ms Trump remains trapped in her buttoned-up suits and Sunday dresses, and convinced of her corporate chic and her own fabulousness as counterpoint to her father’s misogynistic propensities

What was Ivanka Trump’s own “larger messaging”? Frankly, I couldn’t read any. Empowering women? Maybe empowering herself. Being her father’s “hot” girl and one he would date (recall: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her”), she was more fembot mascot for brand Trump than the saviour of women in the workforce that her dad couldn’t be. I assume she thinks her fashion reflects the sartorial choices of working women, only they don’t. She is not a working woman like you and I. For all the talk and the rows of columns that noted fashion has changed, especially in the wake of WFH, Ms Trump remains trapped in her stodgy buttoned-up suits and prosaic Sunday dresses, and convinced of her corporate chic and her own fabulousness as counterpoint to her father’s misogynistic propensities.

Throughout her career as a political operative, Ivanka Trump looks the part of tasteful right-wing Trump surrogates (yes, among them, the belligerent Kellyanne Conway) with their less than tasteful assertions that the president was never wrong or never lied. The clothes they wear perpetually look like outfits picked to meet the boyfriend’s mother… for the first time, or to attend a high school classmate’s wedding at the golf course clubhouse. Blandness may serve your base, but they would not move the needle for fashion. Do Ivanka Trump, Hope Hicks, Kayleigh McEnany, Laura Ingraham, and Paula White, I wonder, go shopping together, all heavenly scented, hair flat-ironed so as to reflect the results of a study, as reported by The Atlantic, that suggested, “Republican congresswomen look twice as ‘feminine’ as Democrat”?

Ivanka Trump is, for many of her followers, the epitome of picture-perfect femininity. Or, red-state refinement. I suspect it’s all styled to go along with the popular imagination of what is worn to work in the White House and to meet world leaders. And it doesn’t come cheap. One Rodarte dress she donned to a bash to welcome French president Emmanuel Macron in 2018, the year her fashion label folded, was reported to have cost an eye-watering USD12,888. It was a frilly, micro-dotted, floor-length dress with six tiers for the skirt—sweet but spiritless, fashionable but familiar, beauteous as Barbie. Ms Trump once said, “I’m not a clone, and I’m not a minion”. From a fashion perspective, those are, to quote one former White House press secretary, “alternative facts.”

Illustration: Just So

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