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Why Ivana Trump's 80s excess look is back in fashion

(Photo:backless formal dresses)

In bewildering, horrifying but true news, we recently learnt that Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate in the US Presidential elections this November. While his third wife Melania has been accompanying her husband to key caucus events and will undoubtedly be a gloriously shoulder-robed presence on the campaign trail, it’s said that “the Donald’s” first wife Ivana - who describes herself as “the ultimate symbol of strength, glamour and worldliness” - is providing calculated behind-the-scenes support for her ex-husband’s White House bid.

It’s not just in political spheres that Ivana has been wielding influence of late. At a recent trend presentation, Net-a-Porter’s Vice President of Global Buying, Sarah Rutson, cited the first Mrs Trump as a key fashion inspiration for this year.

Singling out Hedi Slimane’s farewell Saint Laurent show, Rutson pointed to Trump in her 80s excess heyday as the template for a new uber-glamorous mood in fashion. From Slimane’s super-short cocktail dresses with elaborate bows to Isabel Marant's one-shouldered ruched tops and fishnet tights and Balmain’s hard-edged, power shoulder jackets, the va-va-voom which Ivana - who told a New York Times journalist "You don't have to put down the second name…Ivana is what the people call me" - once brought to the upper echelons of American society is well and truly back on the radar.

After meeting when one-time champion skier Ivana was working as a model - what else? - in New York, Donald and his Czechoslovakia-born first bride were married in 1977. A mutual quest for world-domination ensued and the couple became the poster man and woman for the boom-fueled opulence of the 1980s.

With her bouffant of blonde hair, Ivana probably consumed 99% of the world’s supply of Elnett hair spray- a feat she continues to achieve to this day. The beehive sported by Joanna Lumley's Patsy character inAbsolutely Fabulous is said to have been inspired by her.

Her wardrobe, meanwhile, made Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington look like a nun. Think elaborate taffeta creations with the look of a life-sized Quality Street wrapper, unashamedly oversized fur coats and the most bling-tastic cocktail dresses imaginable.

“When she had first come to New York, she wore elaborate helmet hairdos and bouffant satin dresses, very Hollywood; her image of rich American women probably came from the movies she had seen as a child," was how Vanity Fair described Ivana's style in an analysis of the Trumps' eventual divorce in 1990. "Ivana had now spent years passing through the fine rooms of New York, but she had never seemed to learn the real way of the truly rich, the art of understatement.”

But it is this very failure to achieve a minimalist, whisperingly-rather than screamingly- expensive style which makes Ivana our new fashion muse. After years of desiring only Celine cream tunics, The Row's perfect black trousers and anonymous crisp mannish shirts, the fashion world has been crying out for Drama! Excess! Fun! Ivana, if you'll pardon the pun, comes up trumps.

"It may not be the decade we remember with the utmost fondness, but the hard edged glamour of the eighties certainly made an impact this season" confirms Lisa Aiken, Net-a-Porter's retail fashion director. Luckily she has advice for how to wear it now. "To keep the look modern, be selective and don’t try to replicate the era top to toe. At Net-a-Porter, we’ve bought into wide belts to bring that 80s cinched-waist silhouette to mini dresses and blazers. Balmain, Maison Margiela and of course Saint Laurent showed strong ones for AW16. In terms of accessories look for sharp stilettos, oversized statement earrings and chain handle bags, but wear them one at a time."

Since the divorce from Trump (in which she managed to receive a $20 million settlement despite his impending bankruptcy), Ivana has married twice again. Both were short-lived marriages. So renowned had she become for encapsulating 80s glamour, that she spent most of the 90s capitalizing on it with her own fashion line- Ivana Haute Couture- which offered copies of her own designer wardrobe and jewellery. It seems she had even come around to her ex-husband’s thrifty way of thinking, declaring: "For me, the real jewels are not that important now. I wear my costume jewels from my collection."

Ivana also famously made a cameo appearance in the 1996 film The First Wives Club in which she advised: “Don’t get mad, get everything”. It’s a phrase which could take on new meaning in today’s era of Donald Trump domination. Rumours swirled about the power struggles in the Trump marriage and Ivana has made allegations about her ex-husband's violence towards her. So perhaps all the gilted jewellery, piles of brassy blonde hair and opulent wardrobe weren’t just an expression of an 80s anything-goes culture, but the sartorial solution to dealing with “the Donald.” So pile on the tackiest, sorry, blingiest costume jewellery you can find, pull on a sequinned cocktail dress with sleeves the size of Donald's ego and face the prospect of a Trump presidency in defiant Ivana-style.Read more at:mermaid formal dresses

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