Me­la­nia Trump: the girl from Slove­nia who is Amer­ica’s new­est First Lady

Wil­liam Lan­g­ley heads to the tiny town in Slove­nia where Me­la­nia Trump was raised to find out the truth about the for­mer model who is Amer­ica’s new­est First Lady.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

On a win­try day in 1986, a teenage girl with wide eyes, high cheek­bones and long legs left the small town she had grown up in and took the snowy road to the big city.

Only to dis­cover that Ljubl­jana, the pic­turesque but sleepy cap­i­tal of Slove­nia, was nowhere near big enough. Soon, Me­lanija Knavs, now an as­pir­ing model, was head­ing for Mi­lan, then Paris and on to New York where, adorned in a $200,000 Dior wed­ding gown and her name changed to Me­la­nia Knauss, she would be­come the third wife of con­tro­ver­sial bil­lion­aire and Pres­i­dent-elect of the United States, Don­ald Trump.

A sense of won­der­ment hangs over the town Me­la­nia left be­hind. Snug­gled into the bend of a river, Sevnica is the kind of place even its own mayor strug­gles to talk up. Freight trains rat­tle past and smoke from the two lo­cal fac­to­ries drifts across wooded hill­sides. In bars and cafés, the main topic of con­ver­sa­tion is 46-year-old Me­la­nia’s as­tound­ing rise from a dingy flat be­hind the rail­way sta­tion to the $135 mil­lion gilded triplex atop Trump Tower, Man­hat­tan’s glitzi­est sky­scraper.

“It does seem un­be­liev­able,” says Me­la­nia’s child­hood friend, Mir­jana Je­lan­cic, 47, now head­mistress of the town’s ju­nior school. “But when you know Me­la­nia, it’s per­haps not as un­be­liev­able as it seems. She was a re­mark­able girl and was raised with strong val­ues, and al­ways en­cour­aged to be­lieve in her­self. Both her par­ents gave her that. I re­mem­ber she would never come out with the rest of us in the evening un­til she had fin­ished her home­work or the jobs her mother had given her. She was very pas­sion­ate, em­phatic, about ev­ery­thing she did and she would never give up un­til she had achieved what she set out to do.”

Me­la­nia was born in 1970 to Vik­tor Knavs, a trav­el­ling sales­man, and his seam­stress wife, Amal­ija. At the time, Slove­nia was part of Com­mu­nist-ruled Yu­goslavia and the fam­ily, in­clud­ing Me­la­nia’s older sis­ter, Ines, lived in a state-sub­sidised apart­ment block. Ac­cord­ing to Mir­jana, who was brought up in the same build­ing, only a

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