A city tabloid caused a major stir when it published nude photographs of Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, during her modelling days in the 1990s.
"You've never seen a potential First Lady like this," the New York Post said on its front page yesterday below a nude photograph of Melania.
The "some rarely seen and others never published" pictures were taken during a shoot in 1995 in Manhattan for a photo spread for a now-defunct French men's magazine, the paper said.
The pictures, obtained exclusively by The Post, were shot by French photographer Ale de Basseville. Slovenian-born Melania was then 25 years old and known by her professional moniker Melania K. She had then recently arrived in the city after doing modeling stints in Paris and Italy.
When asked about the photos, Trump told The Post: "Melania was one of the most successful models and she did many photo shoots, including for covers and major magazines. This was a picture taken for a European magazine prior to my knowing Melania. In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and common".
The photos show Trump's wife in nothing but high heels. "Melania was super-great and a fantastic personality and she was very kind with me," de Basseville told The Post, adding the former model never once felt uncomfortable posing for the nude pictures.
"I was quite surprised when I saw the pictures because it was a racier shoot than I expected," said a fashion-industry insider who was present for one of the photo sessions.
"But Melania seemed very comfortable with the whole thing, and she was very professional," De Basseville said the photos "show the beauty and the freedom of the woman, and I am very proud of these pictures because they celebrate Melania's beauty".
She was introduced to the billionaire Trump during a New York Fashion Week party in 1998. The two wed in 2005 in a ceremony at Trump's resort in Florida.
Key adviser to Trump Jason Miller said there's no problem with the Post's publication of the nude photograph of his wife on its Sunday cover.
"They're a celebration of the human body as art," Miller said on CNN's 'Reliable Sources'.
"There's nothing to be embarrassed about," Miller said. "She's a beautiful woman."