MELANIA DOESN’T CARE
The First Sphynx aka Melania Trump has bothered me since she first appeared in my timeline and consciousness. Back then she was wearing a pussy bow. The interwebs had gone balls to the wall with meta interpretations of her sartorial choice. Was she wearing the pussy bow to subtly undermine the pussy grabber in chief? Or was she cheerfully poking fun at the haters? Nobody knows because like all successful cyphers Melania is the silent type.
Then I saw the most recent Diesel T-shirt slogan campaign, Hate Couture, whose payoff line is: “The more hate you wear the less you care”, and I was suddenly freshly reminded of Melania’s fashion semaphors. Also, Melania just visited Africa in a pith helmet. Really. Colonial references be damned. So she is front of mind. Just before the pith helmet incident she caused an international furore by wearing a Zara jacket emblazoned with the slogan “I really don’t care, do u?” This while visiting a camp for migrant children forcibly separated from their parents at the US border. What did she mean? Was she railing against her personal trolls? Was she ironically taking on Trump’s child-separation policies? Who knows? Who cares? History is littered with opaque statements attached to opaque women. (Some in pith helmets).
Take Marie Antoinette. It transpires she never actually said “let them eat cake”. But you would never know because popular history and the trolls of her time have made it historical fact. She had no way to answer back. She had lost her head. Melania on the other hand has a handy slogan at her disposal. She chose to wear this mystifying message during a historical period that is arguably just as fractious, divisive and fuelled by misinformation as the French Revolution. Melania’s symbolic value, like Marie Antoinette’s, is huge, especially during an incident that recalls the very worst moments of US history — the forced separations of slave families and the decimation of indigenous American families.
Slogan T-shirts starting with Katherine Hamnett’s “Choose Life” to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s “We should all be feminists” have always trod roughly in that awkward space between the sign and the signifier. They say one thing but what do they really mean?
This Diesel campaign riffs cleverly on this slogan history. They too have captured the moment. Trolling is the great contemporary leitmotif. The slogans come from the real messages trolls leave on the social media profiles of celebrities like Niki Minaj who features in the campaign. These “hate” slogans are meta messaging at its boldest. You can be sure that Melania and every other sloganwearing celebrity has experienced malicious blowback on the social networks. And Melania, despite close proximity to the troll in chief, has set up a campaign to curtail online bullying.
The unfortunate Marie Antoinette never lived her trolling down — sadly she also never had a slogan T-shirt at her disposal.
Diesel’s Hate Couture campaign.