Donald, Donald, Donald! The New York Times et al are covering the presidential race, but the Trump we’re after is the ’80s fashion icon-turned-unrepentant jet-setter (with boyfriends to spare). She rang us up from her home in Miami.
Where are you living these days?
I spend winters in Miami, spring and fall in New York, and in summer, I have a 300-year-old fisherman’s house in St. Tropez. I need to have a wardrobe for all seasons. I go to New York during Fashion Week, and see the shows for Dennis Basso, Zang Toi, Badgley Mischka, and Carolina Herrera. I wear a lot of Domenico Vacca—he does beautiful pantsuits, which I wear to do business. Silk pants and a blazer, and blouses with rhinestones and buttons. It’s very elegant and sophisticated. I also go to Marc Bouwer, and for evening, I wear Zuhair Murad. I got married in two of his dresses. He was not well-known yet; now, everyone knows him, and he is very successful. I also wear Elie Saab and a lot of Roberto Cavalli. The clothes are stretchy—they don’t crease, they travel very well, and they have long sleeves so you can go from day to evening when you are in air-conditioned rooms.
Are you friends with Roberto?
We’re very good friends. I go to his parties in Sardinia! I know his wife, Eva. One year in Porto Cervo, I was in Cala di Volpe and he threw a party. It was raining that night. I jumped in the car with my friends and I went to Hotel Cala di Volpe, back to my suite, and then I saw Eva Cavalli appear in my doorway. Her boat had lost its anchor, so it was floating in the middle of the Cala di Volpe bay. She couldn’t get on the boat, so I ordered room service and we had a pajama party. It was a lot of fun. I’ve know Roberto for years and years. I was in his fashion show in Milan about 10 or 15 years ago as his muse.
How do you describe your look?
In New York, I’m more conservative. In the South of France, I’m sort of free. I have good-looking legs, so I like the dresses to be short, and I think I’m elegant, sophisticated, and sometimes, a bit over the top—but you know, that’s Ivana.
What do you mean by “over the top”?
Well you know my hairdo, and sometimes the jewelry and the dresses are very elegant. Murad and Elie Saab give you the idea of how I like to dress. I don’t like the huge ball gowns with the huge trains. I like the fitted dresses that show off your figure and are not necessarily translucent like Beyoncé’s.
You also spend a lot of time in bikinis!
I get them in St. Barths! There are a lot of boutiques there, and Vanita Rosa is one of them. In St. Tropez, there are 100 shops to choose from for bikinis, so if I go by one, I buy them. I probably have, easily, 100 different bikinis, because this is what I live in all summer long.
Getting back to fashion shows: What’s knocked your socks off over the years?
I was at Dennis Basso when he started his boutique—that must have been around 25 years ago—and a friend introduced me to him. I went to his showroom somewhere on Seventh Avenue, and Dennis was running late. My biggest fashion moment was when Dennis asked me to be the muse for his fashion show. I wore a full-length sable coat, and it was at a time when furs were sort of “No, no, no.” They said, “Are you not afraid of the press?” I said, “No, I’m not afraid of the press because I was raised in a communistic country, and I came to America to experience freedom and opportunity. I’m going to wear what I want to wear and nobody is going to tell me otherwise.” There was not one bad thing written in the press after the show. It was a lot of fun!
What do you do with your old clothes?
There is a lady named Linda—she’s in Philadelphia—and I give her my clothes and she sells them on eBay. Or I give them to charities like Red Cross and Lighthouse…I also go to Los Angeles, where there are consignment shops for different organizations.
Sweet. Thoughts on fashion today?
Women dress the way they want to dress. In the ’80s, there was not one night when I was not in a ball gown and jewels. It was very difficult, because the men put on their black ties and their tuxedo shirts. To get Donald into the bow tie was almost impossible, but we were out three to four nights a week at charity events or social events like the ballet and opera. It was difficult, because I was working a lot. I was running the Atlantic City casino and the Plaza Hotel. I was out all day long, and then I had to go and get ready with hair and makeup. I’m really very fast! I can do my makeup in 10 minutes, my hair in another 15 minutes, and then I just put on the dress and somebody zips me in.
Do you like any of the new designers today, such as Alexander Wang or Joseph Altuzarra?
You know, I’m really not following that many of the young designers.
Your hair is always up now.
It’s my signature. I go to Venice for the film festival, and I make an appointment with the hairdresser and I say, “I’m Ivana Trump.” They say, ‘Oh! I know your hairdo!’ Every bride who comes through Venice wants to have an Ivana Trump hairdo. My hairdo is sort of famous! It started with a Vogue photo shoot that I did. It’s very simple for me. I was wearing my hair down, but it’s more complicated, because your fringes fly over your eyes and over your lipstick. It’s harder to maintain than when it’s in a chignon. It doesn’t move—I just brush it through, and I can do it myself, or I have my hairdresser do it. Once my hair is blown out at the roots, I can pretty much do everything myself.
Why do you think it’s important for men and women to always look good?
It has a lot to do with your self-respect. I want to look my best at every age, and I think I look very good for my age. I take care of myself. I swim—my father was a champion swimmer and he put me in the swimming pool at the age of 2, and taught me how to swim. He would challenge me by saying, “If you can swim from this edge to that edge, you get five dollars,” so I swam. By the age of 6, my father had introduced me to skiing, and by the age of 12, I was so good at both sports that my coaches got together with my parents and they told me I had to decide on which sport I wanted to focus on. Swimming is an upper-body sport; skiing is all about the legs and the arms keep you balanced. I decided to go for skiing. I take care of myself; I go to the gym, I go for long walks, I have facials. I think it shows self-respect to do good and healthy stuff. I take vitamins, I eat well—a lot of vegetables, fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and chicken. I don’t really splurge on pizza, as much as I love it. If I have pasta, it’s maybe once a week at lunchtime, because you can digest it. I don’t like late-night dinner—I like to go at 7 o’clock, or at the latest 8 o’clock. In the South of France, it’s a different story—I wake up at 6, I take my dog Tiger, who is a Yorkie, for a pee-pee, then I read the papers and watch CNN. By 9, my housekeeper has come in and she gives Tiger fresh chicken with carrots and string beans.
What are your eating habits over there?
I get a fresh salad. In the South of France, the fruit is also very delicious! Then I go to the beach, and I’m on the beach by 12 o’clock. Most of the people sleep until 2, because dinner doesn’t start until 10 o’clock. I don’t care how fabulous the party is; I’m always in bed no later than 1 a.m. It starts at 10, so you eat for two hours, and then you dance. Most of my friends who come for just a week to St. Tropez go to the nightclubs and just drink. Once I have eaten and danced, and I have spoken to everyone, I want to go to bed, because I get up at 6, and I want to have the whole day in front of me. It’s really about self-respect and a bit about restricting yourself from the circumstances.
Do you drink alcohol?
I do! I have one or two glasses of wine a day. I don’t do any hard liquor. I like rosé, which in the South of France, most people drink—they go and order big bottles at lunchtime, like full liters, and drink them and then get smashed, and waste it on the table. I also like pinot grigio, a glass of white wine or maybe two in the evening, one before I go out and one during dinner. Red wine gives me a rash and champagne gives me a bloated tummy.
Do you wear pieces from your daughter Ivanka’s jewelry collection?
I do wear them, and I absolutely adore the pieces! They are my favorite. I have four pairs of her earrings, including the ones with the signature with orange in the back. They’re very beautiful.
You must be very proud of her.
I’m very proud of her because she is beautiful, and she was raised with values that I instilled in her. When I divorced Donald, the children were like 4, 6, and 8. I had full custody, and there was only one cook in the kitchen, which was me. Donald went along with it, and if I would say “no” to the kids, they would go to their father and say, “Daddy, Daddy can we get that and that…?” And he would ask, “What did mother say?” They would tell him, “Mommy said no,” so that meant no. I really raised them. I decided on their schooling and everything they did. When they were 21 and out of university, I gave them to Donald and said, “This is the final product—now it’s your job.” So he gave them jobs in his organization, which they are thriving in. They are very balanced, articulate, and well-educated, and I brought them all around the world with me so they know the world. I drove them on my boat to France, Italy, Turkey, the Greek Islands, Sardinia, and Corsica. They are very sophisticated, well-spoken, and educated. They are doing a great job! I’m proud of them.
You and Donald seem to have a nice friendship today.
We do! He is my best supporter, and Donald is doing great in his campaign. I think he would be a great president. I told him to use the slogan, “You think it, I say it.” He will negotiate deals. He is one of the most dynamic people in the world. He looks presidential, and he talks presidential, and he would make the changes he promises. I wish him all the best.
Do you have any love in your life now?
Actually, I have about three boyfriends! I’m definitely not getting married again, and I definitely don’t want to have children anymore, but I have companions.
You have a fabulous life, don’t you?
Thank you! I earned it! I’ve worked all my life.
Photography: Getty Images, BFANYC.com, Patrick McMullan.com