Photos of Melania in Slovenia She Never Wanted Us to See

Over the years, Melania Trump experienced a complete transformation. She went from being a relatively obscure Slovenian model to the first lady of the United States. The modern Melania is so successful that it’s easy to forget where she came from. But that all changes the moment you see these rare photos from her early modeling career in Slovenia.

Melania Trump was born Melanjia Knavs in Novo Mesto, Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) on April 26, 1970. Her father was a car dealer and her mother was a children’s clothing designer. “I always loved fashion,” Melania told People in 2016. “My mother was a fashion designer so it was always in my blood.”

At 16, Melania launched her career as a model after being spotted by photographer Stane Jerko in 1987 when she was studying in Secondary School of Design and Photography in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. By 18, she was signed by an agency in Milan. And at 22, Melania was runner-up in the Slovenian women’s magazine Jana’s “Look of the Year” contest, ensuring an international modeling career. “I traveled around the world and had the great modeling career,” she revealed to People.

Eventually, Melania’s modeling success allowed her to travel to the U.S. and have a fateful meeting with Donald Trump in 1998 that would lead to marriage, the birth of their son Barron, and a place in history as first lady of the United States.

But it all started with these rare photos from Melania’s early modeling career in Slovenia, some of them taken in 1987 when she was just 17 years old. Keep scrolling to see Melania as you have never seen her before!