In defending his decision to redecorate Air Force One so it looks a bit (OK, a lot) more like his private plane, President Donald Trump praised Melania Trump as the new Jackie O., a reference to former First Lady Jackeline Kennedy Onassis' reputation for being an international style and culture icon.
Trump discussed his plans to change the baby-blue color scheme reportedly selected for Air Force One by Onassis in the 1960s on Friday in an interview on Fox & Friends. "It was Jackie O. and that's good, but we have our own Jackie O. today," the Hill reported he said. "It's called Melania. Melania. We'll call it Melania T, OK?"
The president went on to say that Melania is well-loved among his supporters, some of whom he claimed bring signs to his rallies that celebrate her fashion choices. "When I go speak in big crowds — we have tremendous crowds and so many people are holding up banners, you know, 'we love our first lady,' 'we love high heels,'" Trump said.
Melania, or Melania T. if you prefer, has indeed captured headlines with her fashion choices. In June 2018, Melania boarded a plane ahead of a visit to undocumented, unaccompanied minors detained at the U.S.-Mexico border wearing green army style jacket emblazoned with the words, "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" It was controversial to say the least.
But Melania has also reportedly sought to mimic or draw inspiration from some of Onassis' most famous looks. When Trump was sworn in to the Office of the President in 2017, Harper's Bazaar reported that the baby blue "slim-cut mock turtleneck dress and cropped cutaway jacket" she wore "with tonal suede gloves, pumps, and a clutch handbag to match" was meant to be "a nod to Jackie Kennedy's similarly ladylike ensemble during John F. Kennedy's 1961 Inauguration."
During her visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in June 2018, Town and Country magazine reported that Melania later ditched her "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U" jacket for a classic Onassis look: tailored white trousers and a black top. And earlier this month, Fox likened Melania to Onassis after the current first lady donned a baby-blue Hermes headscarf and oversized sunglasses — a signature look of Onassis — at the end of the Trump's European state-visit.
It's worth noting, however, that, as USA Today pointed out, Onassis didn't become Jackie O. — a nickname the tabloids gave her following her marriage to Aristotle Onassis — until after her stint in the White House. The news outlet also noted that while Melania and Onassis appear to have little in common in terms of background — Melania hails from Slovenia and entered the White House at age 49 while Onassis was born into an upper-class New York family and became first lady at age 31 — some historians expected Melania wouldn't continue the activist first lady role Michelle Obama had cultivated.
"In terms of the evolution of the first lady, I see [Melania] moving us back to the more traditional role," USA Today reported first lady historian Jean Wahl Harris said in a 2016 interview. "A very traditional social hostess is something I think she will be comfortable with."