Few presidents have exploited the theatrical grandeur of the job quite as enthusiastically or as cynically as Donald Trump, from his proliferating forests of flags to his gilding of the Oval Office. Few have been as strategic about the power of caricature, or had such a complicit wife and court to bolster the spectacle. As a group, they tapped into the dregs of “Dynasty” and “The Bonfire of the Vanities” past that sits nestled in our lizard brains. For four years, we parsed soap opera chic instead of “The West Wing.” The visuals demanded attention, just like the tweets.
很少有总统像唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)这样，津津有味或玩世不恭地利用总统身份带来的戏剧排场，无论是密密麻麻的旗帜，还是用金色装点的椭圆形办公室。没有什么人如此有策略性地使用形象的力量，或是有一位如此听话的妻子和一大家子人来锦上添花。作为一个群体，他们勾起了我们古早回忆里残留的《锦绣豪门》(Dynasty)和《虚荣的篝火》(The Bonfire of the Vanities)里的情节。四年来，我们解析的是时髦的肥皂剧，而不是《白宫群英》(The West Wing)。这些视觉效果就像那些推文一样，求的是关注。
But while we will not have that final photo-op closure as the departing first family welcomes the new residents to the White House — that norm, like so many others, has been trampled — the Trumps leave behind a legacy of image-making and manipulation that will be as much a reference for political pundits and style strategists as that of the Reagans, the Kennedys and the Obamas.
The political costume department of our collective imagination will never be the same.
There was a reason the president complained, publicly, about Vogue never giving his wife Melania a cover (at least not after he entered politics). A reason he complained, too, about designers vociferously announcing early in his term that they would not dress the first lady. (Who cares? The Trumps could always buy the stuff.) A reason he and his family built chunks of their empire on the wardrobe of ersatz aspiration. They understood the mythmaking power of appearance, and how it sends tendrils of connection to us all.
There was no better example than Mr. Trump himself. He didn’t just sell his own merch; he wore it. Except, that is, for the oversize suits, which matched the overlong ties (if they were Scotch-taped together, who cared; they looked good from the outside) and became symbols of the overwhelming ego. Those were Brioni.
His willingness to make himself into an orange-tinted, vanilla-custard-combover meme invited mockery — until some realized that, silly as the president’s appearance may have seemed, it was also, in its singularity and consistency, unforgettable. As Doug Mills, a photographer for The New York Times who has covered every president since Reagan, said, the result was “iconic.”
Adding to the effect was Mrs. Trump, his ornamental equal, able to manipulate public perception strategically on her own. And cast in the supporting roles were, first and foremost, Ivanka and Jared, the effective prom king and queen, skin and hair and teeth polished to an impenetrable sheen. Arrayed beside them, like a Foxified Greek chorus, Tiffany Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Hope Hicks and Kayleigh McEnany. Plus Don Jr. and Eric.
不仅如此，特朗普夫人——他的花瓶般的另一半——能够独自策略性地操控公众看法。扮演辅助角色的首先有伊万卡(Ivanka)和贾里德(Jared)，基本上就是毕业舞会上的国王和王后，从皮肤到头发到牙齿都被打磨出无懈可击的光泽。在他们身边站成一排的是蒂芙尼·特朗普(Tiffany Trump)，拉拉·特朗普(Lara Trump)，金伯利·吉尔福伊尔(Kimberly Guilfoyle)，霍普·希克斯(Hope Hicks)和凯莱·麦肯内尼(Kayleigh McEnany)，犹如魅惑的希腊女子合唱团。再加上小唐纳德(Don Jr.)和埃里克(Eric)。
They were embodiments of the president’s ideas of outmoded gender norms and what it meant to “dress like a woman” — and as a man for that matter — in matching red, white and blue Chiara Boni wrap dresses and pumps, false eyelashes batting against their cheeks, carefully tended locks blowing in the breeze, artfully cultivated stubble like an advertisement for masculinity from the school of Axe body spray.
President Trump is vacating office with the look, if not his reputation, intact, though increasingly it has taken on a whole new cast. What was once seen, on screens and in many the mind’s eye, as the brazen self-branding and narcissism of a reality TV star looks more like simple mendacity. From the beginning, Mr. Trump’s appearance was a sham. We should have known that such artifice was as much a part of his moral makeup as his cosmetic kit, and there was more to come. It was always part of the picture.
When Clothes Speak
The scene was set even before Mr. Trump entered the White House, when Melania Trump wore a fuchsia pussy-bow Gucci blouse to watch her husband debate Hillary Clinton just days after The Washington Post released the now notorious “Access Hollywood” audio tape. Immediately the gleeful speculation started: She was trolling her husband. She was using clothes to send a message.
这样的景象甚至在特朗普进入白宫之前就已发生，在《华盛顿邮报》(Washington Post)公布如今已是臭名昭著的《走进好莱坞》(Access Hollywood)录音带几天后，梅拉尼娅·特朗普穿着一件紫红色的古驰(Gucci)蝴蝶结衬衫，观看丈夫与希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)的辩论。人们马上兴高采烈地猜测起来：她在挖苦她的丈夫。她用服装来传递信息。
If it wasn’t the message we expect potential first ladies to send through fashion — that would be about political outreach and economic boosterism, not marital discord — still, it seemed like a message of some sort, suggesting that Mrs. Trump was attuned to the tools of her potential job.
Besides, if it wasn’t a message, what was it? A wardrobe coincidence? Could such willful disregard of external perception be possible for a woman who had been a model? Or was it all meta-commentary on our own expectations of first ladies? Who, exactly, was she toying with?
Mrs. Trump remained enigmatically silent, and thus began a popular addiction to reading her clothes for clues.
Next up was the inauguration, when Mr. Trump wore a Brooks Brothers overcoat like so many presidents before him: Lincoln and Kennedy and Obama. Beside him, his wife wore a powder blue Ralph Lauren suit and matching gloves, her hair in a decorous twist. The reference was also Kennedy: Jacqueline. The designer was American. The interpretation was positive. Her husband said he wanted to bolster Made in America. Both were wearing his words on their back.
接下来是就职典礼，特朗普穿着一件布克兄弟(Brooks Brothers)的大衣，就像他之前的许多总统一样，比如林肯(Lincoln)、肯尼迪和奥巴马。在他身边，他的妻子穿着拉夫·劳伦(Ralph Lauren)的粉蓝色套装，戴着搭配的手套，头发优雅地卷起来，她参考的也是一位肯尼迪——杰奎琳(Jacqueline)。设计师是美国人。对此的解读是积极的。她的丈夫说，他想支持“美国制造”。两人都做到了身体力行。
That lasted a hot second — until Mrs. Trump chose a black Dolce & Gabbana jacket for her official portrait.
这只持续了一秒钟，直到特朗普夫人为她的官方肖像选择了一件黑色的杜嘉班纳(Dolce & Gabbana)外套。
It was one thing when she wore a Dolce lace mantilla to meet the pope on her first international tour; one thing even when she wore the label’s $51,000 floral jacket at the G7 summit in Sicily; one thing to choose an Italian luxury brand — even one run by designers known for their own egregious comments on weight, sexuality, ethnicity — while making appearances in Italy. (That could be spun as local outreach.)
It was another thing entirely to choose that brand for the photo that would adorn the East Wing website for an entire term. That was more like a riposte to first lady tradition and a statement of intent: I will not be forced into the mold that was made for me.
And so it went.
For every New Look Dior red suit Mrs. Trump wore to accompany her husband on his state visit in France, for every brand worn to flirt with diplomatic dress, there was a completely unrelated brand worn to reassert the primacy of her own taste, as opposed to any political exigency. For every Burberry shirt and Michael Kors skirt worn to deplane in England and gesture to the special relationship between the United States and Britain, a moment like the pith helmet in Kenya, a colonial costume that seemed like an affront. For every pro-mask P.S.A., a let-them-eat-cake moment like the spike heels she wore when she left the White House to visit the post-Hurricane Harvey, Texas, disaster scene.
特朗普夫人每次身穿迪奥新风貌(New Look Dior)红色套装陪同丈夫对法国进行国事访问，每次使用品牌来充当外交服装，都总会使用一个完全不相干的品牌，用来重申占据首要地位的是她自身的品味，而不是任何政治要求。她在英国下飞机时会穿巴宝莉(Burberry)衬衫和迈克尔·科尔斯(Michael Kors)裙子，象征美国和英国之间的特殊关系，也会在肯尼亚戴上那顶遮阳帽，它似乎是一种带有侮辱性的殖民服装。她会做呼吁戴口罩的公共发言，也会有那种“何不食肉糜”的时候，比如她离开白宫前往飓风过后的得克萨斯州哈维灾难现场时穿的细高跟鞋。
In between there were choices that seemed calculated to disrupt: the white suit Mrs. Trump wore to the State of the Union in 2018, just after the Stormy Daniels scandal, when such a style had become the uniform of the Trump resistance; the “I really don’t care, do u?” jacket worn on a trip to the southern border that practically broke the internet with a scrawl that seemed like a middle finger to the watching world. But perhaps the final Trump Christmas card was most revealing.
Featuring the first couple in matching tuxedos, it suggested: We’re in this together and always have been. (That’s what Mrs. Trump’s former best friend Stephanie Winston Wolkoff kept saying, too, after she published a tell-all on her own traumatic experience with the first family.) Even if the conspiracy theorists who thought the portrait had been Photoshopped were right.
照片上，第一夫妇穿着搭配的燕尾服，暗示着：我们是一伙的，一直都在一起。（特朗普夫人以前最好的朋友史蒂芬妮·温斯顿·沃尔科夫[Stephanie Winston Wolkoff]在全盘透露自己与第一家庭的痛苦经历之后，也一直是这么说的。）即使那照片如阴谋论者所说，的确是用Photoshop做的。
Maybe especially if the conspiracy theorists were right.
All the President’s Profiting
Now the Trumps are expected to fall back to Florida, with the gold-plated environs of Mar-a-Lago as their empire in exile. They still have their trademarks, and a potential consumer base clutching their MAGA hats, even as the real estate and hospitality industries begin to publicly distance themselves from the family name, as some financial institutions and major companies disavow the president’s actions, and Mr. Trump is shut out of social media. Television and talk radio may be their natural habitats — but then, so is fashion.
This emperor will likely don some new clothes.
Mr. Trump did cut the ribbon on the Louis Vuitton factory in Texas. Vuitton is owned by LVMH, which now owns Tiffany, which is snuggled up in the shadow of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. The group, the largest luxury conglomerate in the world, has not commented on the riots in Washington. Indeed, Shopify aside, the industry is one of the few major business sectors that has remained notably silent on the subject of the president, despite some designers having been so vocal four years ago.
Ivanka Trump, of course, has her own history with fashion, having effectively begun her time as her father’s surrogate while doubling as her company’s own best model in ladder-climbing sheath dresses, statement bangles, and Cinderella court shoes. Her business may have been dissolved after the blowback about her using her position for profit — not to mention her let-them-eat-cake evening gown Instagram shots — but it could easily return.
Meantime, her increasingly unshaven brothers have also increasingly positioned themselves as the avatars of the hunter-gatherer set.
The Trumps may be leaving the White House, but their personal brands will live on, even with the shine tarnished, the substance beneath revealed as fool’s gold. It is up to us whether we buy them.