SARAH VINE: A mischievous tribute to the First Lady of Fab!

SARAH VINE: The epic outfits. That hypnotic gaze. And those glacial ways with her husband. A mischievous tribute to Melania Trump, the First Lady of Fab!

Sweet choice: This 2019 outfit, including £4,600 Valentino cape and Louboutins, was dubbed ‘rhubarb and custard’

There was a brief moment in the past few days when it looked as though, against the odds, the giant orange toddler might actually beat Grandpa Gaga in the American election — and get a second term in the White House. 

Hooray, I thought.

Not because I particularly relish the thought of four more years of The Donald — even I can see that might be madness; but because of the total and utter fabulousness that is Melania Trump.

Was there ever a FLOTUS like Melania? Will there ever be again? Those hypnotic cat’s eyes. Those high Slavic cheekbones. That extraordinary accent, straight out of Bond central casting. 

That steely, thousand-yard gaze and impeccable poise. Those epic outfits. 

And that wonderful way she looks at her husband like she might, at any point, just drown him in a vat of acid.

Oh, those two. What a pair. Her wifely smile would fall like a stone the moment he turned his head, the flick of her wrist sharp as a whip if he ever attempted an unscheduled hand-hold.

Such a stark contrast to the hyper-wholesome Obamas, with their romantic backstory, their constant PDAs, their adorable children and gigantic fluffy dogs. By contrast, the Trumps presented an awkward, American, Gothic-style tableau of undeniable weirdness.

A pair of misfits, he as coarse and unpredictable as she was elegant and disciplined. To the outside world, their relationship seemed jagged and contrived. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t; but it certainly wasn’t the Waltons.

Right from the start, she seemed distinctly underwhelmed by all aspects of his performance. If Trump himself seemed a little taken aback to have actually won the White House, she appeared positively furious. Such was the sheer oddness of how she came across, various wild conspiracy theories took hold.

The first lady is seen left in £1,250 Stella McCartney creation and £795 Manolo Blahnik heels, 2017, and right channeling kids’ favourite nanny in £7,000 D&G dress and £3,000 Hervé Pierre hat last year

She was a spy; she was a robot; she was being held against her will; she was a Russian sleeper agent sent by Putin to destroy America from the inside.

We imagined, in our more feverish Tom Clancy moments, her slowly unscrewing the manicured top of her index finger to reveal a secret USB port which she would then use to tap into the Pentagon mainframe and download the nuclear codes straight to Moscow. Or drumming her nails on the table of the Oval Office while scanning the contents of classified documents with the micro cameras implanted behind her eyes.

She was so inscrutable, mysterious, exotic and confusing we wouldn’t have been surprised if she had stood up one day and told the world that all of the above was true, plus she was also Queen of the Lizard People and an emissary from Mars.

And that, I think, is what’s so wonderful about this woman. She is truly unlike anyone who has gone before.

Echoes of Jackie O: Custommade Ralph Lauren jacket, dress and gloves, an estimated £10,000, for Trump’s inauguration in 2017. While right, the First Lady is seen wearing a £3,500 J. Mendel dress, 2018

She has broken the mould of so many compliant, subservient political wives whose entire purpose in life is to act as brood mares and cheerleaders for their husbands’ ambitions — and reinvented that particular wheel completely.

Take, for example, the parka-style jacket bearing the slogan ‘I really don’t care, do U?’ which she wore at the height of the political storm surrounding her husband’s treatment of illegal immigrants, separating them from their children in camps. Did she wear it to defy his critics — or support them?

Most women in her position are married to career politicians. They’ve been preparing for this all their lives.

Not so, Melania. She is an ex-model from Communist Slovenia who got hitched to a man with a penchant for gold taps and yachts. She was probably looking forward to a life of anonymous privilege among the ranks of the super-rich. The last thing she expected him to do was run for President. Let alone win, the damn fool. No wonder she always looked so cross with him.

Not for Melania the homespun skills of a Barbara Bush, or the bluestocking ambitions of a Michelle Obama. Politics is not in her DNA. And it was crystal clear right from the start that she didn’t really like being in the spotlight. Nor did she particularly want her son, Baron, gawped at like an animal in the zoo, especially at such a crucial age.

LBD at WH: Elegant in £2,130 Givenchy cape, £1,100 Dolce & Gabbana dress, more Louboutins and a £1,400 Dior bag, seen left. Was her £30 Zara ‘I don’t care’ coat, worn in 2018, right, in defiance of hubby or his critics

Reddy for my closeup: Caped £5,610 Givenchy gown on 2019 UK trip, left, while she is seen in a £1,825 Simone Rocha dress and neon orange Louboutin heels while stepping off Air Force One in 2017

She was there on the global stage out of wifely duty, and not for any other reason. In short, it was a bitter pill to swallow, and she had no intention of sugar-coating it, either for her husband or the sake of the American public. All of which explains why she was never much liked.

Even so, you have to respect her honesty. Politics has a way of changing people, of forcing them into uncomfortable corners, or making them reshape the way they are. But it hasn’t changed Melania.

What you see is what you get: a woman who is used to men behaving stupidly around her, and who doesn’t suffer fools, especially the one she’s married to, gladly.

The fact that she can barely hide her contempt for the toxic, dirty game of politics is, to my mind, admirable.

I met her once. It was at a State dinner for her husband at Buckingham Palace, back in February 2018. I was there in my own capacity as political wife (a role that I am also entirely unsuited to).

My husband was talking to her husband, whose ego had erected an impenetrable force field around them both. So I went over and introduced myself.

French fancy: A match for Brigitte Macron, in 2018, in Michael Kors suit and £6,000 Hervé Pierre hat, while the First Lady is seen right top to- toe in D&G including £38,550 coat and £1,245 matching bag in Sicily, 2017

Up close, she looked a little older than I expected, a little more vulnerable.

But the shape and poise were impeccable. She wore a shimmering white column of a dress covered in crystals that made her stand out from everyone else in the room except for the Queen, who was also dressed in white but had the advantage of a) being the Queen and b) wearing an awful lot of diamonds.

We had one of those ridiculous, empty conversations that people have in surreal situations such as these. I was surprised at her easy laugh and her genuine wit.

I checked her eyes for signs of hidden cameras and could detect none.

Perhaps if Donald had won a landslide, Melania might have finally eased into the role, loosened up a bit, maybe even began to enjoy herself.

Instead, she will likely leave the White House as she arrived: mysterious, inscrutable and, of course, dressed to kill.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

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