If Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency is successful, his wife Melania would be the first foreign-born first lady in nearly 200 years, possibly the most beautiful ever — and definitely the first bikini model presiding over a White House state dinner.
Melania, born Melanija Knavs, is a 45-year-old Slovenia native and model whose father, Victor, managed a chain of car and motorcycle dealerships and whose mother Amalija was believed to be either a fashion designer or garment factory worker, according to the New York Post.
“My mom was in the fashion business. I was 5 years old when I did my first catwalk and did commercials at 16,” Melania told the Web site Parenting a few years ago. “I went professional after my studies. My mom loved fashion. We loved to travel and go to Italy and Paris.”
But her fashion career wasn’t a forgone conclusion. Stane Jerko, an acclaimed photographer, discovered a 17-year-old Melania hanging out at a cultural center in Ljubljana, Slovenia, during a modeling contest.
It was 1987, and he asked the teen if he could take some pictures of her.
“Melania was a very quiet, thin girl who appeared not to have too much aspiration for being a model,” Jerko, now 77, tells The Post. “She struck me more like a bookworm. I never expected that she would become a world-famous beauty.”
But she did, and now she might become the most recognizable woman in the world, as Mrs. Donald Trump No. 3 (after Ivana Trump and Marla Maples).
According to the Post, Melania, like Trump, is very business-minded.
“I met Melania in a previous life,” says ID Models Management founder Paolo Zampolli, who befriended her when she was booking jobs in Paris and Milan. “I invited her to join my agency in the United States.”
He described the future Mrs. Trump, who moved to New York in 1996, as being determined and very professional when it came to her career.
She was a homebody, not a “party girl,” he told The Post in 2005.
“This is a woman who modeled for Camel cigarettes on a huge billboard in Times Square but stayed home all the time,” he said.
Today he adds, “She was absolutely business orientated. She took her career very seriously.
“She came to do a job. She didn’t come for any other reason. So she was doing what a model should be doing — go to the gym and go to work.”
Despite their similarities however, Melania initially rebuffed Trump’s advances when she met him at a party she attended with her friend Edit Molnar at New York’s famous Kit Kat Club in 1998.
It was love at first sight for Trump, but when the well-known womanizer tried to get Melania’s number, she refused, asking he give her his instead.
“I am not a girl who will just give away the number to anybody,” she later told The New York Times.
According to Molnar, the model was initially “turned off” by the billionaire.
“Melania said, ‘He’s here with a woman. I am absolutely not giving him my number.’ She wouldn’t even consider it,’ ” she recalled.
Instead, Donald gave her all of his numbers — business and home — and she called him when she returned from a modeling trip.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Or will be.
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