She was discovered at 16 years old
In a modeling fairytale as old as time, Melania emerged from humble beginnings, only to be discovered by photographer Stane Jerko at the age of 16 in 1987, according to GQ. Melania was attending the Secondary School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana, the now-Slovenian capital, and was living in an apartment purchased by her father, the NYTimes reported. And while Jerko spotted her waiting for a friend after a fashion show, the aspiring model was no easy sell. “School was the most important thing to her,” he told GQ. But, true to her passion, she soon had a change of heart. According to the magazine, Jerko taught Melania how to pose, and photographed her just a few weeks after their first encounter. Without shoes. “I didn’t have shoes for her because she had very big feet. The other models had smaller feet,” Jerko remembered, in the GQ interview. But, he assured, “When you live on big feet, you live big.”
Newly signed to a modeling agency in Milan, the 18-year old Trump’s career forced her to drop out of architecture school, the NYTimes reported. Also featured in the same article, a famed second place finish in Jana Magazine’s Slovenian Face of the Year contest in 1992. She would find success in Paris and Milan, according to GQ, but the arresting beauty had her steely eyes, and her dreams, fixed on the rock-n-roll sister of all fashion meccas, New York City.