When Melania Trump tucks her 4-year-old son Barron into bed at night, he has already had a bath. Like many other children, he enjoys having a story read to him before he falls asleep. Melania lets him choose which one to read, and each night, he scans what can only be assumed to be a grand bookshelf before his angelic blue eyes settle on one. Sometimes it’s in English. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat . Sometimes it’s not . Melania appreciates this part of her day, cherishing this “connection between a mother and a child,” as she calls it. ä
Many nights, Melania reads him Dr. Seuss. She particularly likes Oh, the Places You’ll Go! —perhaps because she’s prepping her son for the places he will go, or perhaps because of all the places she has gone herself.
Today, Melania is perceived as a woman who quite possibly has everything. As the wife of Donald Trump—the billionaire, real estate magnate and host of NBC’s The Apprentice —mother of their son and, most recently, a successful jewelry designer, it’s easy to see why.
The Slovenian supermodel has appeared on the cover of dozens of high-profile magazines, including Vogue , Harper’s BAZAAR and British GQ . Her last name alone symbolizes opulent luxury. And her home, bedecked in gold, marble and bronze, soars atop one of the most recognized towers in the world.
When asked what it’s like living in such luxury, she doesn’t miss a beat. For Melania, it’s just a way of life.
“This is my life,” she says. “[It] goes fast. It’s a balancing act, and my life feels very normal to me.”
Her soft voice elegantly complements her light Slovenian accent. She speaks with a sort of humble grace that makes her pleasantly down-to-earth.
For all of the affluence she enjoys now, the 40-year-old once led a fairly ordinary childhood. Born in Slovenia, then a part of the communist nation of Yugoslavia—Melania grew up traveling to Austria, Germany and Italy with her family during summer and winter vacations. She can trace her affinity for fashion, jewelry and design back to her mother, who was a children’s fashion designer. Literally following in her footsteps, Melania strutted down her first catwalk when she was just 5 years old.
The catwalk segued into posing for commercials and catalogs, which then morphed into a full-fledged modeling career by the time she turned 18. It was through these experiences that Melania cultivated her love of fashion, obtaining a degree in design and architecture from a university in Slovenia.
“I liked fashion and design. I think it’s all connected, and architecture [is] the same,” she says. “It’s something in me, and I always love to do [it].”
Melania’s parents knew the value of a good education, which is something she carries with her in her own parenting. Though Barron is only 4 years old, he’s speaking more languages than the average adult in America. English? Check. French? Check. Slovenian? Of course.
“I’m very big in education of languages,” she confesses, adding that it’s best to “teach them while they’re very young and when the brain is still like a sponge.”
Even so, Melania admits, Barron is a child. While education is important, she also believes it’s essential to allow a child to enjoy life. “Open up their eyes and give them the wings to fly, give them the mind to think, to explore, to be their own person. Don’t try to control them. … Let them be who they are,” she says.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Barron’s response is “a businessman and a golfer like his daddy.” True to form, though, Melania isn’t pushing anything.
This freedom is a philosophy she also incorporates into her marriage. While her marriage with Donald has provided fodder for the gossip columns, Melania doesn’t seem fazed. They are celebrating their six-year anniversary this year, and Melania still coos when talking about Donald. “We think the same; we are best friends; we just understand each other,” she muses.
And though many have questioned their 24-year age difference, Melania doesn’t pay it any mind. “You know, sometimes I feel he’s the same age [as] me … and sometimes I have a feeling he’s younger than me,” she jokes. “Sometimes I say I have two children in my house. I have a big boy and I have a small boy. That’s how I see them. They are both my boys, and I need to take care of them.”
ALthough DONALD HAS publicly emphasized how intensely devoted he is to his work, this sort of work ethic doesn’t bother Melania. In fact, it may be one reason why they’re so successful as a couple. Despite the demanding lifestyle they lead—social obligations, charity events and an infinite list of business responsibilities—the two are always connected. Melania explains that they “talk many times through the day.” They even have a schedule of things they like to do alone, such as eating dinner at places like Jean Georges and Le Souk (Melania’s favorites) or going to concerts, like Lady Gaga. Still, Melania likes to give Donald his independence. “I don’t feel you need to be with the person who you love nonstop, every hour. Let them do what they enjoy; let them do what their passion is and then do what your passion is.”
Melania's passion is jewelry. Just last spring, she launched her jewelry line, Melania Timepieces & Fashion Jewelry, selling more than 13,500 pieces during a one-hour program on QVC. The line was so successful that it prompted Melania to design a second and third collection.
Melania’s collections mirror her personal taste. When it comes to jewelry, she believes less is more, and her designs are a testament to that motto. “You don’t need to pile up a lot of jewelry … just have a big and beautiful piece of jewelry—not so much stuff that you look like a Christmas tree,” she says.
When she’s not taking care of her business, her husband or her son, Melania is caring for herself. She values her time alone “to recharge the batteries,” believing in the power of pampering herself.
“It’s my time to relax, to have a massage, to spoil [myself]. Even when I play tennis, that’s my time, and it’s part of the exercise and clearing your mind and body,” she says. “When you are healthy and you feel good, your child sees that as well. It’s all part of this energy.”
That energy is what propels Melania on a daily basis. Between her passion for philanthropy, business and family, it’s clear she loves her life. Yes, she may be a woman of fame and fortune, but it’s the places she has gone—and where they have led her today—that define her. First and foremost, Melania considers herself a mother; the roles of wife and businesswoman fall closely behind.
“I enjoy [what] I do,” she says. “I think that’s all that matters. … [Making] yourself happy, that’s the best thing to do for yourself.”
THE HEART OF A HUMANITARIAN
Melania Trump’s philanthropic interests span a varied spectrum of causes, ranging from children’s charities to environmental causes to her support for local, New York–focused organizations.
“When I have the time, I always give my hand to help,” Melania says. “[There’s] so much going on in the world nowadays that it’s never enough.”
Some of her ongoing efforts include working with the Police Athletic League (PAL) in New York, which focuses on youth development programs. She also serves in various capacities for the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, the Boys and Girls Club and Love Our Children USA. She also took part in Larry King’s recent telethon to raise money for victims of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“That was a big disaster that faced us,” she says, adding, “We need to do something and help to keep the country clean and the environment clean.”
She finds the greatest rewards come from working with charities that involve children. She believes it’s important to “take care of the children, so they’re not out on the street and they get an education.” She wants to see that, “They do something with themselves, so they’re not going into drugs and alcohol. ”
With Donald serving on the board of PAL, he and Melania can share the joy of helping the youth of their beloved New York.
PICTURE PERFECT Melania exudes elegance, and the opulence of the Trump penthouse perfectly complements her grace and composure
MELANIA TRUMP relies on a talented team to help her put her best face forward. Makeup artist Nicole Bryl and hairstylist Mordechai Alvow are Melania’s go-to pros for all of her hair and makeup needs at photo shoots.
Bryl began expressing her artistic talent at a young age, which led her to Paris, where she shadowed legendary fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit backstage at runway shows for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Lacroix. There she spent time in close quarters with Lacroix and Paloma Picasso. Today she is sought out for her creativity, attention to detail and flawless execution. She is the go-to girl for high-profile beauties including Melania and Ivanka Trump, Molly Sims, Hilary Rhoda and Queen Noor of Jordan.
BIG APPLE BABE Melania Trump and photographer Mike Ruiz are fellow New Yorkers who share an intense love for the bustling metropolis.
Alvow travels the world as an editorial artist, brilliantly interpreting fashion and trends into unique, fresh and wearable hairstyles. Alvow is the founder of YAROK Haircare, a small-batch organic hair care line. All of the ingredients for YAROK products are handpicked for their medical and sensory benefits, and are either wild-crafted or responsibly harvested. In addition to Melania, his celebrity clientele includes Naomi Watts and Vanessa Minnillo. Alvow divides his time between New York City, Chicago, Israel and London.
STYLING BY DARIUS BAPTISTE; HAIR BY MORDECHAI ALVOW; MAKEUP BY NICOLE BRYL. MELANIA IS WEARING HALSTON VINTAGE GUNMETAL ENCRUSTED DRESS AND MANOLO BLAHNIK SANDALS (THIS IMAGE); JOVANI BEADED SHOULDER DRESS (BELLOW); VERSACE CRYSTAL MINI DRESS (BELLOW); JEAN PAUL GAULTIER BODICE STRINGED DRESS (BELLOW). ENGAGEMENT RING FROM HER PERSONAL COLLECTION; ALL OTHER JEWELRY FROM MELANIA TIMEPIECES & FASHION JEWELRY.