By Sam Reed
Updated Nov 19, 2018 @ 3:00 pm
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Last year, Melania Trump stepped out for the annual White House turkey pardon looking like a page ripped right out of the Ralph Lauren fall catalog: There was the patterned coat (draped aristocratically over her shoulders), the cinnamon-colored turtleneck ($369; saks.com) and, lest we forget, the supple leather pencil skirt.

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

in pointed-toe pumps with a red long-sleeve top tucked into a brown high-waist leather skirt with a multicolored coat at the White House lawn to pardon turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

But for the 2018 ceremony, Melania practically drop-kicked tradition right out of the Norman Rockwell-painted window. The First Lady stepped out on Tuesday afternoon in a Dior coat from the pre-fall collection that could have just as easily been hung next to an Ellsworth Kelly painting at the Museum of Modern Art.

Credit: JIM WATSON/Getty Images
Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images

It was the color scheme, however seasonally appropriate, that drew the most attention. Many on Twitter compared the look to the "guest of honor" — Peas the turkey, who received Donald Trump's presidential pardon.

It's impossible to know, because Melania never speaks about her clothing choices (unless she's asking the media to stop talking about them altogether), but her busy coat may also have been a form of distraction, placing the attention squarely on her Dior-covered shoulders rather than on those of her daughter-in-law, Ivanka, who has dominated headlines all day as it was revealed that she had sent official government emails from a private account. Ivanka, who became an official White House employee in March of 2017, claimed she didn't know the rules regarding emails.

We'd be hard pressed to believe that the First Lady wouldn't be aware of the attention she'd receive for the look, especially following the criticism she faced following her trip to Africa in early October. FLOTUS was called out for insensitivity for donning a pith helmet, a symbol commonly associated with colonialism; she also caused a stir on Twitter when she stepped out in a look that was compared to cartoon protagonist Carmen Sandiego.

“I wish people would focus on what I do, not what I wear,” Melania said at the time.

In response, The New York Times's Vanessa Friedman wrote, "What [Melania] does is inextricably bound up in what she chooses to wear while doing it, and the same would be true of anyone in that role ... The clothes are simply a symbol of the actions, and the actor. Is it superficial? No more than paying attention to any kind of symbolism is."

For those that believe that Trump is working to undermine her husband through fashion at every turn, contemplate this: According to Vogue Runway, Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by "Claude Cahun, the pseudonym of Lucy Schwob, a prolific contributor to the Surrealist movement who was openly homosexual and who wore men’s attire more often than not," for the pre-fall collection.

In all likelihood, however, Twitter was probably right: She and her stylist were probably just reaching for "Thanksgiving" hues, that just so happened to match Peas.