Thursday, June 1, 2017

What Kind of Coat Costs $51,500? A Closer Look at Melania's Stunning Dolce & Gabbana Floral Jacket

Melania's Exquisite Floral Jacket by Dolce & Gabbana
This blog is my happy place where we escape from the harsh realities of politics by submerging in art and design, especially textile art and design. Melania Trump's decadently embellished floral jacket, designed by Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana, is an unquestionable triumph of textile design.  Garments like this are why I love couture fashion, even though I can't afford to wear it.

So, people have been asking, what kind of jacket costs $51,500?  Isn't that crazy?  Like, what could it possibly be made of that justifies that price tag?  Isn't it just wrong that ANYTHING made of mere fabric should command that kind of coin?


"The Women of Algiers" by Pablo Picasso, Sold at Auction for $179M
Art has always been about so much more than the value of the materials used to create it.  Check out Pablo Picasso's 1954 record-breaking oil painting, "The Women of Algiers," which recently sold at auction for a whopping $179 MILLION dollars ($160M plus commission).  It's a canvas with oil paint on it, right?  I can buy everything I need to make that painting for under $50 at Michael's, right?  And the anonymous buyer who bought the Picasso will want to buy my amateur painting entitled "The Rottweilers of Ballantyne" for a hundred million dollars, too... Uh, WRONG.  

I think that when we express outrage over the high prices of couture fashion we are doing a disservice to all textile artists, whether they are fashion designers, art quilters, costume designers, or weavers.  Fine fabrics and threads cost MORE than oil paints, after all, and at least as much artistry and skill go into transforming bolts of silk and a handful of beads into a masterpiece like Melania's jacket:

Silk Ribbon Embroidery, Beading...  All Done By Hand
Click on that picture to enlarge it.  Isn't that just stunning?  The entire surface of this jacket is encrusted with the most painstaking heirloom embroidery techniques.  The padded satin stitched leaves accented with metallic thread veins.  An exuberant garden of three-dimensional silk ribbon embroidered flowers.  Thousands of shimmering seed beads scattered over the flowers like so many drops of morning dew, each one stitched in place by hand.  This garment is magnificent.

But beyond the cost of the materials and the skill of the embroiderer, it's really the "Picasso element" that makes this piece worth so much more than a simple equation of materials plus labor.  It's the creative genius of Stefano Gabbana, who obviously loves traditional hand embroidery as much as I do -- the artist who reimagined a stuffy old-fashioned needlework tradition from ball gowns of centuries past and transformed it into a garment that is fresh, edgy and modern, utterly original and unique.

As Seen On the Runway at D&G
And what about Melania, the First Lady so many love to hate?  We don't know her that well, but it seems to me that she is most comfortable expressing herself creatively through her fashion choices.  Who can forget the fuschia Gucci Pussy Bow blouse she wore for the debate that took place right after the "grab-'em-by-the-P____" scandal broke?

Melania's Gucci "Pussy Bow" Blouse
Dressing well is an art in and of itself, and it takes more than a big bank account to put together outfits that are flattering and appropriate for high-profile events.  Don't believe me?  Think back to some of Cher's notorious Oscars ensembles.  That's why most celebrities today are professionally styled for red carpet events.

Cher's Notorious 1986 Oscars Ensemble
The First Lady of the United States of America would look ridiculous wearing this gorgeous D&G coat the way it was styled on the runway, but paired with a simple ivory dress, the look is elegant and iconic.  Seriously, I predict that someone is going to come out with a creepy collectible Melania doll wearing a miniature version of this outfit.  If I had only seen this jacket on the runway, in a fashion magazine, or in a shop, I would have admired the embellishments but would have had no idea what to wear with it or whether I could "pull it off."  Although she can certainly afford to hire a professional stylist, Melania chooses to "style herself," telling Elle magazine "I style myself and choose what to wear based on what I feel good in it [sic]."

As Worn By Melania Trump in Sicily
She's not Michelle, Barbara or Hillary, she's not Wonder Woman, and she's not Mother Theresa, but she's definitely a snappy dresser.  I look forward to seeing what she wears next!  And as for the designer of this Coat of Many Colors?  Stefano Gabbana is a self-made billionaire, an entrepreneur and a creative genius whose father was a factory worker and mother was a laundress.  Geography aside, the Dolce & Gabbana label is the epitome of the American Dream.  I'm happy for his success, and glad that his beautiful designs are getting the exposure and recognition they deserve.

Happy Thursday, everyone!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I kind of like her but really truly I just plain do not like that jacket LOL -- I know there is a lot of work in it and a work of art for some, but too much for my taste. I do like the way she dresses normally but can't for the life of me figure out how she can wear those sky high heels all the time - my feet would be saying ouch all day long

Home Sewn By Us said...

Hi Rebecca,
That's so funny - I think the jacket is just beautiful. I can totally see the art and value in it, and she wears it well. So I can agree with her taste in clothes . . . maybe. ~smile~

Unknown said...

Yes to the jacket. It is an absolutely stunning work of art. How fortunate that SOMEONE can afford to wear it! Sharon

Katie said...

Well said!! :-)

emily said...
NYTimes Sept. 1960 The uproar over reports that Jacqueline Kennedy spent $30,000 a year on Paris clothes!!!!She commented that she would have to wear sable underwear!

Janet M said...

Nice! Interesting backstory on the artist too. :>)

Jenny K. Lyon said...

GREAT post! I loved reading about the backstory on this and your perspective. We all love to see beautiful clothes. I was not aware of the exquisite work done on that jacket. Thank you!

Janice Holton said...

Way to defend the maker, Rebecca! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and clearly, plenty of people think this designer's work is worth the price. And good for you for not letting politics spoil the appreciation of someone's style. I very much enjoyed this educational post!

Mary said...

Very insightful thoughts re: the beautiful coat. She is a beautiful woman who is able to wear elegant clothes with dignity and grace.