Donald Trump has been leading the headlines ever since he decided to run to be the 45th President of the United States.
But his wife Melania is every bit as eye-catching as the billionaire’s surge to claim the Republican nomination and then the White House.
The Yugoslav-born model will become the first First Lady to be born abroad after her husband won the US election to follow Barack Obama into the Oval Office.
But she appeared to follow current First Lady Michelle Obama a little too literally at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, when Melania was accused of plagiarising parts of Mrs Obama’s 2008 convention speech.
Born on April 26, 1970, Melania is 46 – meaning there is a 24 year age gap to her 70-year-old husband. She was raised by her Communist party member father Viktor Knavs, who managed car dealerships for a state-owned vehicle manufacturer, and her mother Amalija Ulnik, a pattern maker at a textile factory.
She was born in Sevnica, which is now in Slovenia but was then part of Yugoslavia. Her name was originally Melanija Knavs but she found fame as a model under the name Melania Knauss.
She began modelling at 16. Photographer Stane Jerko spotted her as a 17-year-old in Ljubljana as he left a fashion show, and invited her for a trial photoshoot. Her shoot with acclaimed Jerko catapulted her into the spotlight, leading to a contract with Italian model agency ID in Milan aged 18, and went on to work in Paris too.
She graced the world’s catwalks and magazines, appeared naked on the front of British GQ magazine, in a shoot on Trump’s customised Boeing 727 featuring Melania wearing handcuffs, wielding diamonds, and holding a chrome pistol. She also appeared in the 2000 swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.
She has said: “My mom was in the fashion business. I was five years old when I did my first catwalk and did commercials at 16. I went professional after my studies. My mum loved fashion. We loved to travel and go to Italy and Paris.”
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