Beyond fashion: How Melania Trump is modeling herself after Jackie Kennedy

Melania Trump wore a Jackie Kennedy-esque powder-blue suit for her husband’s inauguration. (Pool photo by Jack Gruber/USA Today)

Melania Trump wore a Jackie Kennedy-esque powder-blue suit for her husband’s inauguration. (Pool photo by Jack Gruber/USA Today)

Starting with that powder-blue inauguration ensemble, plenty of first-lady watchers have noticed that Melania Trump’s fashion choices have seemed one pillbox hat away from copying Jackie Kennedy, perhaps the biggest style icon to occupy the White House.

But fashion isn’t the only way in which Trump seems to be channeling the timeless former first lady.

Trump’s public presence has been slight, so there’s not much to go on, but there are a few clues among the breadcrumbs that point in the direction of Camelot.

Like the glamorous Kennedy before her, Trump says she plans to focus on historical preservation at the White House. Kennedy oversaw an overhaul of the furnishings and decor at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. that was based on scholarly research and a vision of the building not as a museum but a reflection of all the administrations that had passed through it.

In a statement announcing that the White House would soon resume public tours after an unusual break, Trump sounded a Jackie-esque note. “The White House is a remarkable and historic site, and we are excited to share its beauty and history,” she said. “I am committed to the restoration and preservation of our nation’s most recognizable landmark.”

And her choice of Tham Kannalikham as her White House decorator seems to underscore that mission. Kannalikham is a relatively under-the-radar designer who isn’t known for the kind of over-the-top design the Trumps favor at their hotels and properties — or their gilded Manhattan digs. According to Architectural Digest, she’s a history buff: “Eighteenth-century buildings, interiors, and culture — French, English, American, Irish — are definitely among Kannalikham’s passions, and she’s been a regular presence at events hosted by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art,” the magazine reports.

In a 1999 New York Times interview, Trump said she would look to Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford as role models should she ever be first lady (Donald Trump had begun his decades-long flirtation with running for office). And like Kennedy, Melania Trump is a more private person than her outgoing husband, and is protective of their son’s privacy.

But perhaps the most obvious way the new first lady has aligned herself with Kennedy was evidenced in a telling line in the statement announcing that Trump has hired Anna Cristina Niceta Lloyd, an events planner with an Arlington-based catering company. The statement went Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon in a painful effort to link the current and former first ladies.

“Ms. Niceta Lloyd is married to Thomas Lloyd, grandson of the late Bunny Mellon, wife of Paul Mellon, friend and mentor to Jacqueline Kennedy,” it noted.


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