Following Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US Presidential election, it didn’t take long for Americans to realize that his wife Melania Trump is not like other First Ladies the country has had over the years. Also, the numerous controversies she has been involved in haven’t made her anyone’s darling. While many have come to know her as the president’s wife and for the perceived flaws, there are many facts about her life that are worth knowing. From her family background to her career and marriage, learn more about this FLOTUS below.
The Origin and Early Years of Melania Trump
Melania Trump was named Melanija Knavs after she was born in Novo Mesto, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) on the 26th of April 1970. Yeah, the first lady is also Slovenian by nationality. Her father Viktor Knavs is from Radece while her mother Amalija Knavs came from Raka, both in Slovenia. She, however, acquired American citizenship in 2006 by marriage and naturalization. In addition to having dual citizenship, Melania is multilingual; she fluently speaks English, German, French, Serbian, and her native Slovene.
Melania had a modest upbringing alongside her older sister named Ines. She also has a half-brother named Denis Cigelnjak whom her father had from a previous relationship. During her early years, her family lived in a housing block located in the Lower Sava Valley of Sevnica. They later moved to a two-story residence in Sevnica during her teens. Her family currently resides in the US.
On reaching high school age, Melania moved to a high-rise building in Ljubljana from where she attended the High School of Design and Photography, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Following her graduation, she enrolled at the University of Ljubljana to study Architecture and Design. But then, she did not earn her degree as she abandoned her studies after her freshman year.
An Overview of Her Modeling Career
Melania Trump had always wanted to be a model from childhood. She started threading the path at a very tender age when she was only five. She would participate in local fashion shows alongside other children in her neighborhood. At sixteen, she took up her first commercial job with Slovenian fashion photographer, Stane Jerko. When she began modeling professionally, she changed her name from Melanija Knavs to Melania Knauss. She turned 18 and moved to Italy where she started working for a modeling agency in Milan.
In 1992, Melania emerged Jana magazine’s runner-up in the ‘Look of the Year’ contest held in Ljubljana. From her base in Milan, she modeled for various fashion agencies in Paris during which she met Paolo Zampolli, a co-owner of Metropolitan Models who convinced her to move to the United States. She would later meet Donald Trump through Zampolli.
Melania eventually arrived in Manhattan, New York in 1996. The following years saw her become quite a successful model, she worked with famous photographers like Patrick Demarchelier and Helmut Newton. She also graced the cover pages of several popular magazines like Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Front, and Harper’s Bazaar. Melania also launched and ran her own line of jewelry and skincare products.
Facts to Know About Melania Trump’s Marital Life
Melania met Donald Trump for the first time in 1998. The duo met at a Fashion Week party hosted in New York by Paolo Zampolli, a friend to Donald Trump. Donald, at the time, had just separated from his second wife, Marla Maples. They were however yet to conclude their divorce proceedings.
After a while, Melania and Trump began dating and subsequently got engaged in 2004. On 22nd January 2005, they got married. The marriage solemnization took place at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea while the reception came off in the ballroom of Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida. The occasion received wide media coverage and had many celebrities and political figures in attendance.
While it is Melanie’s first marriage, it is Donald’s third and he is twenty-four years older than his wife. She has just one son with Donald, his name is Barron William Trump and he was born on the 20th of March 2006. Aside from Baron, Melania has five stepchildren thanks to Donald Trump’s previous marriages.
Details of the Controversies She Faced
Just as she became the FLOTUS, Melania Trump made headlines for copying the outgoing First Lady’s speech. It happened that her speech was similar to Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. To make things right, Trump’s staff writer owned up and apologized.
Two years later, a similar issue arose, with critics lashing out at Melania Trump for plagiarism. That was in 2018 when Melania launched the “Be Best” campaign alongside a booklet reportedly written by the first lady and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Nonetheless, it was later discovered that the content of the booklet was almost the same with another published by the FTC in 2014. The fact about this was that Melania only wrote the introduction to the booklet which was a revised version of the older copy. She also never claimed to be the author of the entire work. Check out other controversial issues she has been involved in:
Escort Service Job and Over-the-board Flight Expenses
In August 2016, a Daily Mail report claimed that Melanie Trump did escort service jobs in the course of her career as a model. Melania would go on to sue the media company in February 2017, seeking a $150 million compensation. While the nasty controversy brewed, Melania sparked yet another contention with a statement in her lawsuit that suggested she intends to use her office as the FLOTUS for business gains. She eventually accepted a $2.9 million settlement.
January 2018 came and a Wall Street Journal report claimed that Melania’s flights over a period of 3 months in 2017 cost over $675,000. Comparing this to Michelle Obama’s annual flights’ cost of $350,000, one can understand why it was a big deal.
The Mira Ricardel Case and Palm Beach Atlantic Award
Towards the end of 2018, Melania Trump entangled herself in a heated controversy after she personally pushed for the dismissal of Mira Ricardel who was the Deputy National Security Advisor. She even issued a public statement calling for her immediate sack. Ricardel was eventually removed to serve in another capacity and many criticized Melania for it.
The first lady was honored by Palm Beach Atlantic, a university in Florida with the 2020 Woman of Distinction Award. This became an issue as many deemed Melania undeserving of the recognition.
Controversies that Revolve around Her Outfits
Famous designer Ralph Laurene dressed Melania for her husband’s inauguration on the 20th of January 2017. He faced a good deal of criticisms thereafter for his choice of design for the FLOTUS on America’s special day. Since then, the first lady has been slammed almost always for her choice of outfit. Let’s take a look at some of the instances.
The Costly Dolce & Gabanna Coat: In May 2017, during Donald Trump’s World Tour, Melania appeared in a five-figure D&G floral jacket that set twitter on fire because of its worth. Reports had it that the coat swallowed $51,000, it was too much money to spend on a coat for most people.
Her Zara Jacket with Shady Inscription: There was something very unsettling with the first lady wearing a jacket with an inscription that says “I really don’t care…” while visiting children impacted by Trump’s immigration laws on the US-Mexico border.
Although she explained that the inscription was for those who would criticize her decision to visit the kids, many were reluctant to believe her.
Melania’s Africa Tour Colonial Helmet: Again, critics came for her after she was seen touring a Kenyan safari wearing a pith helmet, such worn by colonial officials. Responding, the first lady pleaded for people to focus on what she does and not what she wears.
Her 9/11 18th Anniversary Coat: Similarly, Melania Trump was castigated in some quarters for being insensitive with her choice of outfit during the 18th 9/11 anniversary. Apparently, the back pleat of her coat looked like a tower with a plane crashing into it.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) September 11, 2019
The Flawless and Expensive Gardening Outfit: While accompanying some schoolkids to harvest vegetables in the White House Kitchen Garden, the former model appeared impeccable in a $1,000 Balmain shirt and fine sneakers with matching gloves. This left a lot of people pissed as they expressed that the first lady wasn’t being real like Michelle Obama.