While First Lady Melania Trump hosted her French counterpart Brigitte Macron on a tour of the National Gallery of Art Tuesday morning, FLOTUS’ go-to stylist Hervé Pierre chatted about Tuesday’s state dinner and his White House days.
A designer in his own right, Pierre is widely known for designing the inaugural gown FLOTUS wore last year. Trump intentionally didn’t tell the French-born American that he would have his own seat at tonight’s state dinner, preferring to let him know via the U.S. Postal Service. “When I opened the invitation, I was in front of my doorman and I was jumping. He said, ‘What’s going on?’ and I said, ‘Oh, you have no idea,’” Pierre said. “First of all, the invitation on its own with all the calligraphy looks divine.”
While the White House staff prepared for what will be the Trumps’ first state dinner, French President Emmanuel Macron talked trade and other pressing issues with Donald Trump and other politicos. Holed up in the White House all day Monday, Pierre said in a phone interview, “I’m a very impatient person so I went to see how the room was decorated. It’s really magnificent. There is something really amazing that not one picture can give you — the smell of lilac in that room. The smell was absolutely insane. With Instagram and everything, we only speak about the eyes but we don’t necessarily have any social media for the nose. That is something still very mysterious. All these pictures are available but the smell is not.”
In addition to the bountiful cherry blossoms, there are floral arrangements lilac and sweet peas on the intimate tables. Once the festivities are under way, Pierre hopes to have a word with the Macrons and French chef Guy Savoy who grew up not far from Pierre. What FLOTUS will wear to host the Macrons remains a question mark but Pierre dismissed any Internet comparisons’ to Kerry Washington’s “Scandal” persona. “What happened? Kerry Washington? She’s an actress? I will have to Google something.”
After the white Michael Kors suit that Melania Trump wore Tuesday morning was agreed upon and purchased, Pierre said he asked Michael Kors for additional fabric for a hat made. “They were so lovely. They gave me two yards of fabric and I had the hat made in an atelier in New York. It was a hatmaker with no brands. I did a mock-up with proportions and then it was done,” he said.
Getting through security was understandably more challenging. “I told them, ‘I know I have to go through security but there is nothing in that hat. I can guarantee you. It is beyond fragile. You can’t take that hat by the border because it will break. It’s white. You have to take it by the crown. There were these big security officials looking at this hat. It was kind of comical,” Pierre said. “Eventually, they had to put it through the X-ray machine. It makes me mad, but it is what it is. I have no choice. I understand the rules.”
Pierre was less compromising with the inaugural gown he designed for Trump last year. “I refused. I said, ‘If you put this under the X ray and you just crush the wave in the gazar of the dress, you have destroyed history. You have no idea. They were holding it like the Holy Grail.’ That was not negotiable. It was the same thing with that hat.”
For Monday’s Mt. Vernon dinner, Trump paid tribute to her guests’ heritage by choosing a Givenchy cape with a duchess satin lapel that was slightly shorter than what she typically wears. Pierre asked Dolce & Gabbana to design an above-the-knee black dress for the occasion which she wore with Christian Louboutins and a Christian Dior croc clutch. The First Couple toured the property’s upper garden, a buzz-by the bedroom were George Washington died and a post-dinner tribute to Washington by placing a wreath on the Washingtons’ tomb.
The First Lady’s designer choice for tonight’s state dinner is still not known. As for whether, there are any last-minute jitters, Pierre said, “She doesn’t seem to be at all. We were laughing earlier and she seemed to be in a very good mood. This morning we were up at 6 a.m.”
To be an overnight guest on the third floor at the White House is “completely surreal.” The designer said he told some of the staff who have worked for so many presidents, “If one day, you are not pleased to be going to work in this prestigious building, you would be better to quit.” (Pierre is such a familiar face at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that he “doesn’t need a badge but wears a daisy in his lapel.”)
White House security is so involved that Pierre said, “When I am here, I prefer to stay here. I don’t go out because it is so complicated to come back.”
As a French-born American citizen, Pierre said he was moved to listen to Macron on the White House lawn earlier in the day. “Last night I didn’t sleep because I could feel the ghosts. I can guarantee you if one day you sleep at the White House, you will pinch yourself before you turn off the lights. Also, I wanted to be ready for this morning. We met early for hair and makeup. This is a big deal. You have to be perfect. Even if I didn’t design the pieces, I wanted her to be immaculate. To represent the U.S. is a big honor and I wanted her to look her best. This morning she was stunning. She is lovely. Listen I know a lot of people don’t know her, but I’m lucky to know her a little bit.”
Describing the White House as being like a company inside of a house, Pierre said he likes to make the rounds greeting the chef, the floral designers and “all these people working. It’s brilliant. I really enjoy it. I cannot lie. And also to be in the residence. It’s one thing to go to the state rooms that everybody knows. There is a room that Jackie Kennedy decorated in the corner of the East Wing that was not touched since she left. To be in this room where nobody stays is quite an experience,” Pierre said.
Of FLOTUS’ decision to host 150 in the State Dining Room, the designer fully approved. “For other state dinners, they built a tent outdoors. Why do you build a tent when you have the beautiful White House with the State [Dining] Room and you don’t have to invite the Yellow Pages?”
Recalling watching the Macrons take off with the Trumps Monday night in Marine One, Pierre said. “This is not usually a thing you would witness — and I’m a kid for that. I’m never blasé. I am always with eyes wide open and enjoy every second. This is really something that few people can witness in their lives. It’s interesting whenever you do something that is very special.”