Today is First Lady Melania Trump’s 47th birthday. To commemorate her birthday we’d like to share 47 pictures of Melania from her early days of growing up in the small town of Sevinca, Yugoslavia under a communist regime to her fabulous White House portrait as our First Lady.
Melanija Knavs-Trump was born on April 26, 1970 in the small Slovenian railroad town of Sevnica.
Her father Victor was a car parts salesman. He drove a Mercedes, and by the time young Melania was 16 he had built the house in the small town of Sevnica – population 4,500 – as a weekend retreat for the family. The property is on the banks of the River Sava.
Meanwhile, Melania’s mother Amalija worked as an executive in a textile factory. She would come back from business trips to Milan and Paris with tales that would inspire her daughter to make her name in international fashion – first as a designer before embarking on the modeling career that would lead to her meeting Donald Trump.
School friends remember Melania as a studious girl who preferred her books to playing – a long way from the woman who would pose for photos in a magazine wearing the skimpiest outfits aboard ‘Trump Force One’ – her husband’s customised Boeing 727 (which he has since upgraded to a 757).
Her childhood neighbour and friend Mirjana Jelancic, 45, who is now the headteacher at the primary school in Slovenia which they both attended, said: ‘She loved everything to do with art and design. She would renovate old things to make them like new, such as old baskets. Her family put them in the living room with flowers in.’
Ms Jelancic said that Melania, now 46, often showed off her diplomatic skills by acting as a mediator during playground disputes. She said: ‘She had a strong personality. She would not be the first with an opinion, but she was intelligent and wise. She grew up in a society when there was not so much freedom. She knew that there was a bigger world out there because her mother had gone to fashion shows as part of her work.
‘She wanted something more from life, but she never told me that she wanted to be a model. She liked knitting and making clothes.
‘In those times, people were more or less equal, but her family had a sense of aesthetics. Her father always had a Mercedes and it was a ritual that Melania and her sister Ines would clean it every Saturday. ‘She was always reading books, fashion magazines and catalogues. Kids would often call her to play, but she was busy reading.’
Melania, her parents and sister moved to an apartment in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, when she was about 14, and she started at the city’s Secondary School of Design and Photography.
But her family retained their links with Sevnica, building their own white-painted house with a balcony and staying there at weekends.
Her parents, who have lived in New York in recent years, still own the house and return once or twice a year. It even has a US-style mailbox. The couple were last there for a week in June when neighbors noticed they had bodyguards. –DM
Melania was 16 when she was spotted by fashion photographer Stane Jerko in Ljubljana and he invited her to pose for him. He said: ‘I saw this tall girl with long hair and long legs so immediately introduced myself. She was a little self-conscious when I first photographed her, but she learned very quickly and relaxed.’
Melania’s first modeling job was for Vezenine Bled—one of the most prominent textile factories in Yugoslavia. That was about two years before the country fell apart in a series of bloody wars. Nowadays, the Vezenine Bled factory grounds function as a paintball site.
“She was very interested in perfecting her pose for the camera and in what kind of lighting worked best,” Jerko says. “She was eager to learn what it took to make a great photograph.”
It didn’t take long for Melania to start getting regular modeling jobs, so Jerko didn’t see much of her from then on. “I would be delighted if she became first lady,” he says. “She didn’t get there because I discovered her—she has worked on herself a lot. She never went out with us, the local fashion crowd. She always had her books with her. She was always swimming or studying. She knew what she wanted.” –Vice Serbia
Melania has appeared on the covers of and and on the pages of several top magazines:
A young Melania in her modeling days:
Melania Trump marries Donald J. Trump:
Melania and Donald Trump are expecting their first and only child:
Melania and Donald celebrate the birth of their son Barron Trump:
In addition to being a former model, Melania was also a successful business owner before President Trump made the decision to run for office.
Melania hits the campaign trail:
First Lady Melania Trump:
The official White House portrait of First Lady Melania Trump
Happy 47th birthday First Lady Melania Trump!