Melania Trump wows in a canary yellow cape – but who is it a dig at?

The first lady’s Buckingham Palace ensemble was both on trend and provocative

It was another day and another cape for Melania Trump, who arrived at Buckingham Palace for a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth ahead of the Nato summit. Trump outshone her husband, the US president, choosing a yellow Valentino cape coat for the occasion in what was obviously a shrewd sartorial move.

When the president removed his overcoat for a photocall with Prince Charles and Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, at a Clarence House tea the same day, Melania's stayed put. Poking out of the yellow, her arms were shrouded in a bright pink dress from Hervé Pierre, matching the pink Christian Louboutin stilettos on her feet. This was not a look imbued with subtlety – and not the first time Melania has opted to wear yellow on a visit to the UK.

Last year the lemon-coloured J Mendel gown (with cape detailing, no less) that she wore to a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace earned her numerous comparisons to Beauty and the Beast’s Disney incarnation of Belle, thus implying that Trump was... you guessed it.

This week’s cape was on trend: Balmain, Ceeline and Chanel all featured capes in within their autumn-winter collections last year. But it is worth remembering that capes are also the uniform of many a pop-culture villain, from Marvel’s Swarm to Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent. Elsewhere, in bullfighting, capes are also used to provoke, and to taunt. Who could she have been having a sly dig at?

No single item of Melania's clothing has inspired more discussion than the €35 army-green Zara parka she wore on a trip to the US border with Mexico last year – the one with the words "I really don't care, do U?" printed on the back. There have been many takes, but according to Kate Bennett's new unauthorised biography of the first lady, it was directed at the president's daughter Ivanka. "I believed, and still do, that the jacket was a facetious jab at Ivanka and her near-constant attempts to attach herself for positive administration talking points," Bennett, a CNN reporter, writes.

Some regarded it as a plan that backfired – which wouldn't make it Melania's first fashion mis-step: last year, her video tour of the White House's Christmas decorations saw her wear a black coat (not Christmassy enough) to wander through a dystopian display of blood-red cone trees (terrifying). This year is better: big green trees next to tiny gold ones, accented with dashes of red, and being tinkered with by Melania, dressed all in white. One thing remains, however: the shoulder-robing of her coat, giving it a cape-like quality.

The Washington Post's fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote after @flotus tweeted the video. "It's a discomforting affectation taken to a ludicrous extreme. In a video that is intended to celebrate the warmth and welcoming spirit of the holiday season, that simple flourish exudes cold, dismissive aloofness." – Guardian, New York Times

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