Melania Trump pays homage to American Military Service members with ensemble

For her first Inaugural weekend appearance Thursday afternoon, Melania dressed with respect in joining the president-elect for a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Wearing a Norisol Ferrari military-inspired knee-length coat and coordinating sheath dress, the incoming First Lady's ensemble was meant to pay homage to American military service members. The occasion was particularly meaningful for the New York City designer whose biological father is a wounded veteran who sustained lifelong disabilities in the line of service.

PHOTOS: Trumps arriving in Washington

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. The president-elect will participate in a series of pre-inaugural rituals and celebrations, beginning with a reception at the Trump International Hotel he opened in downtown Washington last year. The events are a run-up for his swearing-in at about noon on Friday. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. The president-elect will participate in a series of pre-inaugural rituals and celebrations, beginning with a reception at the Trump International Hotel he opened in downtown Washington last year. The events are a run-up for his swearing-in at about noon on Friday. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - JANUARY 19: (AFP OUT) First Lady-elect Melania Trump exits the plane ahead of President-elect of The United States Donald J. Trump as they arrive at Joint Base Andrews the day before his swearing in January 19, 2017 in Maryland. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to come to the National Mall to witness Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
Melania Trump, wife of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, arrives at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. The president-elect will participate in a series of pre-inaugural rituals and celebrations, beginning with a reception at the Trump International Hotel he opened in downtown Washington last year. The events are a run-up for his swearing-in at about noon on Friday. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, MD - JANUARY 19: (AFP OUT) President-elect of The United States Donald J. Trump and first Lady-elect Melania Trump arrive at Joint Base Andrews the day before his swearing in January 19, 2017 in Maryland. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to come to the National Mall to witness Trump being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump and wife Melania Trump step off a plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Melania Trump walks down the steps during a wreath laying ceremony with US President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive to attend an inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. The president-elect will participate in a series of pre-inaugural rituals and celebrations, beginning with a reception at the Trump International Hotel he opened in downtown Washington last year. The events are a run-up for his swearing-in at about noon on Friday. Photographer: Chris Kleponis/Pool via Bloomberg
US President-elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner and children, step off a plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump with her son Theo, steps off a plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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In an interview Thursday, Ferrari's said her first thought Thursday morning was, "God, I hope we can be a less angry nation."

Addressing the issue of designers who have publicly said they would refuse to dress Trump, Ferrari said, "I am absolutely opposed to discrimination in any way. I wanted to give her her own voice. Empowering women is all that matters to me. I do not discriminate whether for race, religion, color of skin, sexuality, political affiliation – what have you. No, I do not believe in it in any form."

Ferrari continued, "I really saw a person who is being misunderstood who is being scrutinized. She's a woman and a mother and I am pro-woman. That at the end of the day is very important to me – equality for women and for all human beings. If that's what I really believe, I had to do it."

Ferrari declined to say how she voted in last year's presidential election. "I don't believe that my political affiliation has any relevance in this appointment. The only thing I can say is that my biological family paid a very heavy price for this nation and that's why I did this." she said.

Ferrari was connected with Trump through her senior advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who has been collecting the downtown designer's pieces for more than five years. Ferrari showed her first collection in 2009. Her husband Lawrence Lenihan, managing director and founder of FirstMark Capital, is her business partner. From their first meeting shortly after Thanksgiving, Trump was clear about wanting a "commanding, military-esque coat" for today's wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and I happen to make one. It's my strength – jackets, coats and outerwear."

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NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, husband Jared Kushner and children, step off a plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President-elect Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump with her son Theo, steps off a plane upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on January 19, 2017. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19: Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner are seen walking in Midtown on January 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
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Designing the bespoke New York made stretch cashmere ensemble was no small feat. She said, "It's been scary to make sure that I get it right, that I do my best. It's a part of history." (Her efforts must have measured up with Trump, since an ankle-length blue and grey cashmere and alpaca "Commander" coat was also ordered.

The designer said, "Someone who comes from where I come from doesn't get this opportunity. I'm an orphan. I'm an independent designer, female-owned business, a first-generation minority woman. People like me are dead. They don't survive, they don't strive, they don't get opportunities, they don't get ahead. Women in general don't get opportunities like this in fashion. I'm very fortunate to one have such a beautiful muse. She's striking and poised and kind. That part was easy. She made it very easy."

RELATED: Where other designers stand on the issue of dressing Melania

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Designers comment on dressing Melania Trump
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Designers comment on dressing Melania Trump

Christian Siriano: Undecided

Source: Access Hollywood

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Tom Ford: No

Source: The View

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Marc Jacobs: No

Source: WWD

Reuters

Sophie Theallet: No

Source: Twitter

Getty

Derek Lam: No

Source: WWD

Getty

Phillip Lim: No

Source: WWD

Getty

Tommy Hilfiger: Yes

Source: WWD

Ungano & Agriodimas via Getty Images

Thom Browne: Yes

Source: WWD

Mireya Acierto via Getty Images

Carolina Herrera: Yes

Source: Business of Fashion

Getty

Marcus Wainwright: Yes

Source: New York Times

D Dipasupil via Getty Images

Vera Wang: Neutral

Source: WWD

Getty

Calvin Klein: Yes

Source: TMZ

Getty

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Not surprisingly Trump knew just what she was after for this solemn occasion. Ferrari continued, "In quiet, you can feel her kindness. She has an air of grace. That is hard to describe."

Asked what today means to her on a personal level, Ferrari composed herself and said, "Wow...I really don't want to get caught in the crosshairs of this. I did this for women. I believe the unity of women is the most important thing there is to talk about in the world because without us they have nothing."

An American citizen, Ferrari said she doesn't know a great deal about her family history. "I was given up by both of my biological parents. The only thing I do know is that we were invited here. We were not immigrants who ran underneath some fence to get through." she said, adding that her chemical engineer grandfather was invited to work in the U.S. where he was responsible for 150 patents. "All I know is that I'm Colombian and Venezuelan, and I'm fortunate to be alive."

Ferrari said, "It's an honor when any woman chooses me for her wardrobe. It's so important for me to arm woman in this world. A conversation that should never be relevant is, 'What is she wearing?' because it is never asked of men. We're constantly being scrutinized for our intelligence, our sexuality and what we wear. To empower women means everything to me – to field this world that is unfair to us."

With an afternoon medical appointment, Ferrari didn't plan to watch the wreath laying ceremony. "I'm going to the doctor and taking care of myself, which is something that women generally don't do. I'm going to try to do a little self care." she said.

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