It was a Fashion Week party in 1998. Donald spotted model Melania Knauss across the room and he knew he needed to meet her.
But there was a problem – he was with a date. So Donald sent his date, Celina Midelfart, to the bathroom and approached the beautiful Melania, but she was not impressed. “I had heard he was a ladies’ man, and so I said, ‘I’m not one of the ladies,” Melania told People.
Melania, who grew up in Slovenia, gained her confidence at a young age. In an interview with Parenting, Melania said, “I always liked myself. Even when other kids teased me, I didn’t care. I knew what I wanted to do. I found my passion at such an early age. It helped with my confidence.” She also shared her personal mantra: “Believe in yourself. Be proud of who you are, no matter who you are married to, are dating, or who your parents are, be your own person. And take care of yourself, because when you take care of yourself first, you will do a much better job taking care of others.”
It was this confidence that caught Donald’s eye, but it was also this confidence that detered her interest in him. As she told Harper’s Bazaar: “He wanted my number, but he was with a date, so of course I didn’t give it to him.”
Even so, as she talked with Donald, Melania was impressed, “I was struck by his energy… He has an amazing sense of vitality.”
Melania continued refusing to give her phone number to Donald, but finally agreed to accept his as a way to understand Donald’s objective in asking. “If I give him my number, I’m just one of the women he calls… I wanted to know what his intention is… It tells you a lot from the man what kind of number he give you,” she told GQ. What was she looking for? “If it was a business number, what is this? I’m not doing business with you.” But Donald impressed her; he gave her all his phone numbers, “the office, Mar-a-Lago, home in New York, everything.” So, she called him.
On their first date, Donald took her to dinner and to Moomba (the New York hot spot for stars in the late 90s). “We talked for almost the whole night,” she told People. “It’s really something special. Sometimes they say love is hard to find. When you meet the right person everything seems fantastic.”
Even so, their courtship wasn’t an easy road. Because of Donald’s reputation, it was hard for Melania to trust his fidelity. Her former roommate, Matthew Atanian, admitted to GQ, “She had some trust issues with him at the beginning… She was telling me that she wouldn’t have it, he was back to his old ways. She kept her apartment to have her own space because of this.”
At one point, Melania even broke off her relationship with Donald. However, Donald has sworn to be faithful to Melania, which most likely had a hand in her decision to rekindle their relationship six months later.
The couple got married in 2005 in a fairytale wedding in Florida (with Melania wearing a 100,000 dollar Dior dress that took over 550 hours of embroidery to create). On her relationship, Melania says, “It’s a different romance than maybe some other people [have] but he’s [a] very different man anyway… but we have a great relationship and we are both very independent. We love what we do… and that’s the most important [thing]. [We] have great quality time together.”