By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
The press in recent weeks was on a Sherlock Holmes-worthy trail in search of first lady Melania Trump, who wasn’t seen in public for nearly a month after undergoing what the White House described as surgery for a benign kidney condition.
That changed June 4, with the first lady’s appearance at a private White House function.
During the weeks she was “missing,” America — or at least the media — went gaga, suggesting a variety of reasons for her disappearance, none of which seemed to be based in reality.
I was struck that not only was the first lady nowhere to be seen but also notably missing was the touch of glamour she brings to the White House and just about anywhere she appears.
Melania Trump has unmistakable glamour. She always appears in style, thanks to her wardrobe and the way she wears it — a big white hat, her powder blue stylish suit on Inauguration Day, her shimmering evening gown during the state dinner for the French president, her Casablanca trench coat, her eyeglasses. There is a cool femininity about her that the world finds intriguing.
Melania Trump has spent a lifetime attending to personal details about her look, as did folks like Cary Grant and another first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. The world watched these style-setters just as they are watching Melania.
It does seem that we have to look a little harder for glamour — at least formal glamour — these days. Gone, as of last month, is the crisply white-suited author Tom Wolfe. Gone is the classic beauty of Ingrid Bergman and the Adolfo style of first lady Nancy Reagan.
Glamour in home decorating — and in the decorating of hotels and restaurants — is often harder to find as well. There are few glamorous eateries in New York. Perhaps La Grenouille is one of the last bastions of classic style where damask, murals, flowers and black-tie-clad waiters still can be found. Not so with those glamorous nightclubs, where a 12-piece orchestra played all night and silver Champagne coolers were placed at every starched-white-cloth-draped table.
Our culture has moved on, adopting a much less formal attitude — and perhaps that is the way it is meant to be. But less care typically means less glamour. I do long for the world of the beautifully appointed bed, with all those crisp white sheets, pillowcases and comforters. I love a house filled with fresh-cut flowers. I love a dining room with silver candelabra polished to the nines. I love a home filled with color and comfort. I love a party where gentlemen and ladies are black-tied and sparkling. Today’s black-tie-with-denim events just do not sing to me of glamour.
This week, the first lady attended the Ford’s Theatre annual gala in Washington, where she paid tribute to President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. Her hair was impeccably groomed, her makeup flawless and her floor-length Escada gown striking. Back on the scene, she was the very picture of glamour.