PHOTOGRAPHY BY DOUGLAS FRIEDMAN | December 1, 2011 | People
Sally vest ($268) and Shellie pants ($248), Elie Tahari. Saks Fifth Avenue, 2 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd, 610-667-1550. Oversize bezel-set crystal hoop earrings ($39.75), Opera de Paris baguette crystal link bracelet watch ($72.48), Champs-Elysees pavé crystal open link bracelet watch ($73.50), Eiffel Tower crisscross bracelet watch ($66), and crystal band ring ($54.12), Melania. Wide carved cable bangle, David Yurman ($650). King of Prussia Mall, 610-265-6370. Karina leopard peep-toe pumps, Oscar de la Renta ($745). Neiman Marcus, King of Prussia Mall, 610-354- 0500. Charles Ghost stool, Kartell ($170). abccarpet.com
|Marquise-shape simulated diamond floral design necklace, Melania ($189).|
Melania Trump was a beautiful bride. Even now, nearly seven years after the statuesque Slovenian-born model wed real estate developer Donald Trump in an utterly lavish ceremony at his Palm Beach club Mar-a-Lago, the memory is still fresh. Dressed in her haute couture Christian Dior by John Galliano gown and dripping in dramatic jewels fit for royalty, Trump made headlines even before the January 2005 wedding when she appeared on the cover of Vogue in all her bridal glory, just weeks before the nuptials. For many people, this was their official introduction to the woman who captured the American mogul’s heart.
Now comfortably settled into her roles as wife and mother to five-year-old son Barron, Trump is tapping into her creative energy and entrepreneurial spirit with a jewelry collection for QVC, the homeshopping empire headquartered in West Chester. Barely more than a year old, the namesake line has quickly become one of the network’s most successful. The range of accessories, from watches and rings to bracelets and earrings, capture classic but contemporary design elements with an occasional nod to the seasons: For her holiday collection, which debuted in November, Trump amps up the sparkle for special occasions. Elements of glamour can be found throughout each of its three city-centric lines—New York, Palm Beach, and Paris—all of which are inspired by Trump’s jet-setter lifestyle. As a true testament to just how personal the design process is for her, Trump even recreated the likeness of her 15-carat diamond engagement ring, a token of affection that reportedly cost $1.5 million, for the Paris line.
Like Trump, Elizabeth Gilly shares a passion for jewelry. With a bachelor’s in metalsmithing and jewelry (from Penn State) and a master’s in art history (from Temple), Gilly has been at Moore College of Art & Design since 2006, first as an adjunct faculty member and now as an outreach and public programs coordinator at The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design. Gilly recently caught up with Trump to discuss the joys of jewelry design.
|Embroidered dress in cotton and leather, Louis Vuitton ($2,965). King of Prussia Mall, 610-992-0392. Black and white crystal band ring ($59.50), multirow crystal encrusted link bracelet (top; $139.75), and limited edition curb link bracelet (bottom; $139), Melania. Open pavé scroll cuff with engraved sides (middle), Penny Preville ($25,475). Bernie Robbins, The Radnor Hotel, 595 E. Lancaster Ave., St. Davids, 610-971-2446. White dining set, ABC Carpet & Home ($3,999).|
ELIZABETH GILLY: I love so many of the pieces in your collection for QVC, particularly because you use metals just as much as jewels. Metals can be so beautiful and luxurious. Tell me a little about the inspiration behind your collection.
MELANIA TRUMP: My collections are all inspired by the three cities I call home: New York, Palm Beach, and Paris. New York is for the businesswoman juggling work and motherhood; Palm Beach is all about sporty elegance and more casual; Paris is very glamorous, with more stones and a celebratory feel. I looked to my life for inspiration: I’m a mom, a wife, and a businesswoman. So everywhere I go—if I drop my son, Barron, off at school, if I play tennis or go to meetings—I ask myself if I could wear one of the pieces that I designed. I always keep in mind the women who are juggling everything, as I do, and what they want to wear.
EG: Your education in architecture and design seems to really come through in the structure of your pieces. There is such consideration for how it sits on the body. Does that play a lot into the initial design process?
MT: I love the proportion of the pieces. Sometimes they are a statement; sometimes they are more elegant. I love to travel and experience architecture in other cities. I traveled all over the world when I was modeling. I lived in Milan, Paris, and London, and I moved to New York in 1996. I think that with design, you are either born with it or you’re not. I’m involved in the design process from A to Z. This is not something where it’s, ‘Here is my name, now do everything for me.’ That’s not my agenda. I sketch my ideas and then meet with my team to tell them what I envision. They create a sample, and I approve everything, so if something isn’t quite right, the designers go back and make adjustments. I started the collection in April 2010, and it’s been a huge success. It’s really exciting to see the pieces come together.
EG: This venture also means that people are really getting to know you for the first time on a more personal level, and as more than just Donald Trump’s wife.
MT: I modeled for years, so I’ve never had a problem with being in front of the camera. Through QVC we reach millions and millions of homes, and I get to chat with a lot of women when they call in to the show. It’s such a great experience. This is my business that I started on my own—my husband has his own business. I’m very independent. To be married to my husband, you can’t be needy or clingy.
EG: I remember the first piece of jewelry that made me want to pursue a career in jewelry design. Is there a piece that stands out in your mind that has inspired you in this way?
MT: A beautiful bracelet that I had when I was a little girl, from my parents. I come from a background in fashion: My mom was a childrenswear designer for kids up to 15 years old, so I grew up around that, going to fashion shows and surrounded by beautiful things— accessories, clothing, home interiors. And I started modeling when I was five years old. It’s all provided me a lot of ideas.
|Natasha white dress with shoulder details, Joanna Mastroianni ($2,900). Special order, Saks Fifth Avenue,2 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd, 610-667-1550. Cushion and baguette simulated diamond earrings ($36.50) and emerald-cut simulated gemstone ring with crystal accents ($27.12), Melania.|
EG: What is next for the collection in 2012 and beyond?
MT: I am always designing and I am always sketching, but I am working on a new project that I can’t talk about quite yet. It’s amazingly exciting. I don’t want to spoil it. [laughs]
EG: The holidays are a very special time for giving back, but you are involved in a variety of charity organizations all year long. Tell me about your latest involvements.
MT: I am very involved in the American Heart Association. I hosted a big gala [in 2009] for the organization at our resort, Mar-a-Lago, and we raised an amazing amount of money for research. This is the busy season for charity work in Palm Beach. Every Saturday night, something is happening. I am also involved in the Police Athletic League in New York and across the country. It is so important to give back. My son is five years old, and it’s something that I want to instill in him from an early age so that, as he gets older, he’ll understand why it is so important.
EG: How will you be celebrating the holidays this year?
MT: We have a few traditions. Every year we decorate our apartment in New York, which is where we spend most of our time, with a tree and all the decorations. It’s even more fun now that Barron is older; he has some input as well. We spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve at Mar-a-Lago. We host a family dinner for Christmas, where we all get together. It’s a lot of fun now that the family is getting bigger, with all of the stepgrandchildren. Then for New Year’s Eve, Mar-a-Lago hosts a party for about 400 people with fireworks and a band. We celebrate the holidays in the warm weather—and that’s just fine with me.
Photography by Douglas Friedman; Styling by Mia Morgan at Vanguard; Management Group
Hair by Moredechai Alvow; Makeup by Nicole Bryl