Ivanka Trump posted a photo of her and her husband, top Trump advisor Jared Kushner, headed to the annual Alfalfa Dinner this weekend. Ms. Trump caught some Internet blowback for her timing. Her glittering silver Carolina Herrera dress and her happy smile struck a stark contrast with other photos from the same night — of angry protests at airports and families torn asunder by the president’s executive order restricting immigration and stopping refugee travel. Many responded with the famous line attributed to Marie Antoinette: “let them eat cake.”
But Trump’s dress was a huge success in another sense. In reporting the story CNN and other outlets pointed out that Trump’s Herrera dress wasn’t yet available to the public, but could be pre-ordered online at luxury department store Neiman Marcus for $4,990. Trump most likely received the dress for free in exchange for being a high-profile model for Herrera — Trump also wore a Herrera dress at one of the inauguration balls. The practice of big name designers giving or lending famous people their designs for exposure is longstanding — red carpet events like the Academy Awards are a prime example. In this case it may have worked remarkably well. It’s not clear why exactly, but this week the Neiman Marcus website has frequently been off line. If the problem is driven by too many people wanting to order a $5000 dress, the economy is certainly working for some people.