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President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, step off Marine One as they arrive at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D. (AP) President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, step off Marine One as they arrive at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D. (AP)

President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, step off Marine One as they arrive at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher July 6, 2020

No, first lady’s dress was not designed from drawings by sex trafficking survivors

If Your Time is short

  • People on social media, not “the media,” mocked the dress the first lady wore at President Donald Trump’s rally near Mount Rushmore.

  • The dress was not designed based on the drawings of young people who had been sex trafficked.

The dress Melania Trump wore to Mount Rushmore for a controversial speech her husband delivered on the eve of Independence Day drew a bit of criticism of its own.

But a Facebook user who defended the first lady’s fashion choice in a July 5 post suggested the dress had more meaning than critics knew:

"The media mocked First Lady Melania’s dress. They said it looked like childish scribbles. Little did they know, they were the drawings of several young victims of sex trafficking who tried to explain their pain through pictures. They mocked her raising awareness for the victims of sex trafficking. This deserves 100,000 shares!"

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The white and black dress is designed by Alexander McQueen. The designer’s website describes it as "dancing girls asymmetric midi dress," a sleeveless, round neck ivory linen and listed at $3,840.

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Asked about the claim that the sketches on the dress were made by survivors of sex trafficking, a spokesperson for the London-based fashion designer said that story is fabricated: "There is no truth in this statement," Alistair McCallum told PolitiFact. 

The design was mocked in some corners of social media by some who said it looked as if it had been doodled by Donald Trump with a Sharpie pen, as reported by several outlets. 

PaperMag.com, which covers fashion and entertainment, reported on the dress in May, noting that in 2019 Alexander McQueen enlisted the help of design students at Central Saint Martins, an arts and design school in London, to make its Spring 2020 collection.

"Alexander McQueen gave Paper a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this dress," the article said. "The students' dancing girl sketches were done on long white sheets during a life-drawing class led by fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven at the brand's flagship store in London."

The school itself also published an article about its collaboration.

There is no evidence the dress was designed by sex trafficking victims. We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post (archived here), July 5, 2020

AlexanderMcQueen.com, "Dancing girls asymmetric midi dress," accessed July 6, 2020

Daily Mail, "'Will somebody please take the sharpie away from him!' Social media mocks Melania's unusual $2,400 Alexander McQueen as she steps out at Mount Rushmore event," July 4, 2020

PaperMag.com, "See How Alexander McQueen Brought These Students' Sketches to Life," May 7, 2020

BizPacReview.com, "Trump-haters mock Melania’s dress, which was created by students to celebrate unity," July 5, 2020

Lead Stories, "Fact Check: Melania Trump's Mount Rushmore Dress Does NOT Feature Drawings Of Young Victims Of Sex Trafficking," July 6, 2020

AFP Fact Check, "Melania Trump’s dress did not feature drawings by child sex abuse victims," July 6, 2020

Email, University of the Arts London press team, July 6, 2020

Email, Alistair McCallum, worldwide PR director, Alexander McQueen, July 6, 2020

Central Saint Martins, "From drawing class to Alexander McQueen catwalk," Oct. 24, 2019

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No, first lady’s dress was not designed from drawings by sex trafficking survivors

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