The Man Who Dresses Melania Reveals Exclusive Details About Working With Melania Trump


In the recent installment of our video series that goes inside the private working world of designers, you will see the consultant Hervé Pierre, the former creative director of Carolina Herrera revealing that he was fashion student in Paris when he learned that he had been commissioned to create a dress for the reproduction of the Statue of Liberty on the Pont de Grenelle. “It was the first dress I made in my life, 25 feet across,” Mr. Pierre said wryly, “and I’m just speaking of the width of the lady’s bosom.”

The fashion designer who came to fame in January when he designed Melania Trump’s inaugural gown, in a recent interview for the New York Times at his studio, he told us how he became the first lady’s stylist, where he shops and whether he will start on his own label.

The day before inauguration, the first lady, she looked at me and said: “Herve do you know that your name will be all over the news, I didn’t realize the scale until my phone suddenly went ballistic with interview requests; I had investors and bankers in Dubai calling, people opened fake Instagram accounts under my name. Even Target called to say, ‘We are so excited you are doing a line for us.’ I’m like, ‘Well I had no idea I was doing one.’” Somebody even recognized him on the street in D.C. on his way to the National Gallery Sunday. “The attention is something I’m not used to.”

As Pierre reveals, Mrs. Trump originally approached the French-born designer (who gained U.S. citizenship in August) to be her stylist, but when she saw his sketches she suggested that he design the gown himself, with her collaboration. The soon-to-be First Lady recognized the special talent this little-known designer posses and believed he would give her the chance to wear something no one else had.

Pierre said that working with Mrs. Trump is everyone fashion designer’s fantasy. “She knows fashion—she was a model and has worked in a design studio—so she knows about construction,” he explained. “When I brought her fabric swatches, she immediately picked the heaviest, most beautiful six-ply silk from Italy. She knows about fabrics. It was a very organic conversation because we have the same vocabulary.”

“She was very specific about the neckline, about all the lines being parallel.”

Pierre revealed that when it came to the concept for the gown, Melania was insistent on its simplicity and elegance. “She was very specific about the neckline, about all the lines being parallel,” Pierre recalled, adding: “It was important for us not to follow any recipe for a ‘First Lady gown.’” The creation for the dress the designer saw it as a perfect opportunity to express s his respect for both Mrs. Trump’s individual style, and also the majesty of the event. “She’s presidential now; she’s not just a fashion plate.”

The collaboration helped Pierre to strengthen his affinity for working with women such as Mrs. Trump who have a strong vision for what they want. “As a man designing for a woman, you put into the clothing your ideals, what you idolize, but a woman will put you back on track and say, ‘I cannot reach my fork.’” Indeed, during one fitting Melania told Pierre: “Hervé, I love you, but I cannot move my arm to hold my husband’s arm when we dance.”

During one fitting Melania told Pierre: “Hervé, I love you, but I cannot move my arm to hold my husband’s arm when we dance.”

Pierre revealed that the First Lady’s fashion choice that evening constituted her announcement to the global audience of what we should expect during her tenure in the White House. “There is an economy of the drawing, and that’s who she is. Her next four years as First Lady are going to be, like this gown, straight to the point, perhaps with a single measured detail,” he said, referring to the slim red band tied
around her waist. “I also didn’t want to refer to the past, to any period,” Pierre added.

“I believe it was something modern, which was not done before—thank God. The lines are as sleek as a paper cut; the curves of the skirt are fluid, yet the overall shape is sharp and intense. For me it reflects her personality.”

For Pierre, too, Friday represented his own inauguration of sorts: an immediate appearance onto the world stage from which he had remained kept from sight over the course of his decades-long resume of top creative posts at some of the most esteemed houses in both France and America, from Balmain to Oscar de la Renta to, most recently, Carolina Herrera, where his 15-year tenure as creative director ended last February. Though, he has designed for many First Ladies under these labels, Melania’s white gown was of great significance because it bore his name alone.

“When you work under the shadow of an established brand, you feel that you are protected,” he said. “I felt comfortable on the big boat at Balmain, de la Renta; I felt secure.”

“I’m not doing politics, I’m doing dresses. We are not suddenly brokering a big deal between China and Russia.”

When being asked what he would say to his peers who have famously declined to dress Mrs. Trump, such as Tom Ford, Philip Lim, Marc Jacobs, and Timo Weiland, Pierre communicated through his thick French accent the real meaning of the American spirit. “That’s the good thing about this country: we are all equal, but we are definitely not the same,” he said. “I’m not doing politics, I’m doing dresses. We are not suddenly brokering a big deal between China and Russia. If people don’t want to dress her, I think it’s sad, but I was honored. I don’t criticize these people—it’s their choice, and that’s the beauty of democracy.”

The moment when Trumps took their first steps as the First Family of the United States, then, so did the designer understand what might end up being the crucial career challenge of his life. Just what the future will look like from here remains to be seen. There are numerous potential opportunities out there to be explored as a fashion designer—and it seems that the end of his relationship with the Trump White House is not likely to happen anytime soon. “I traveled with her on Friday and she said, ‘I need to see you this week; we need to speak,’” Pierre revealed. But he’s not getting ahead of himself just yet: as he reminded himself, with a lighthearted ease that would serve a First Lady adviser well, “It’s only Wednesday.”

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