Donna Karan, Marchesa face backlash amid Harvey Weinstein scandal
The fashion industry has become entangled in the Harvey Weinstein scandal thanks to two well-known designers: Donna Karan and Georgina Chapman, the latter of whom is Weinstein’s wife and a co-designer of Marchesa.
Karan made remarks on Sunday to Daily Mail suggesting that Weinstein’s alleged victims may have been “asking for it” in an interview questioning the way women dress and present themselves. The designer has since apologized for her comments, releasing a statement Monday saying she believes “sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual.”
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But despite her apology, the DKNY founder is facing intense backlash, with many calling for a boycott of her brand — even though Karan herself no longer runs the label, which is owned by G-III Apparel Group, according to WWD.
Celebrities soon weighed in, calling the designer out for her comments. On NBC’s “Megan Kelly Today,” Kelly shared her disapproval with the way Karan implied that women may be inviting “trouble” based on how they dress.
“This attitude of blaming women for their own harassment is actually one of the reasons why women choose not to come forward after they get harassed because they fear victim shaming. They fear it. They know it’s going to happen. How about we not pile it on, Donna? How about we use this moment to encourage women to find their own voices despite the risks and to stand up for themselves, which is hard enough, without rich, powerful, well-connected fashion moguls lecturing them on their clothing choices?” said Kelly.
“And speaking of fashion choices, here’s one for you. I’m done with Donna Karan,” she added.
Actress Rose McGowan, one of the women who settled with Weinstein, sent out a tweet calling the designer “deplorable.”
Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, whose girlfriend Asia Argento accused Weinstein of rape, also tweeted his displeasure with Karan.
Mia Farrow tweeted that she’ll no longer be wearing Karan’s designs.
Many others on social media are calling for a boycott of the Donna Karan brand, as well as turning her own marketing and advertisements against her.
G-III felt the repercussions of Karan’s comments, as well. The company’s stock was hit in early-morning trading, but managed to rise 0.51 percent Tuesday to close at $27.75, WWD reports.
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Chapman, Weinstein’s wife, is also likely to take some heat thanks to her husband’s actions. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Weinstein — often a front-row figure at his wife’s fashion shows — used his connections to earn her label notoriety early on, helping place Marchesa gowns on celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Penelope Cruz, Renee Zellweger, Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Lopez.
“Marchesa’s breathtaking success has the fashion world talking – and rolling its eyes, too,” wrote the Los Angeles Times per The Guardian in the label’s early days. “Just how much of that success, observers wonder, is due to the Harvey factor?”
While Chapman announced Tuesday she’s divorcing Weinstein, fashion insiders wonder if her label can survive its association with the producer.
Chapman and her partner, former model Keren Craig, had little experience as designers when they founded the label in 2004. Weinstein was reportedly instrumental in its early success, securing red-carpet placement of the designs on numerous Hollywood A-listers.
“He was the mastermind behind Marchesa — orchestrating deals and using his influence in terms of the celebrity connections for her on behalf of the brand,” said an L.A. fashion publicist to THR. She added that her understanding of Chapman and Weinstein’s marriage was that “they both benefited from the relationship, but she certainly knew about his bad behavior.”
Another long-time L.A. based publicist recounted a time when Felicity Huffman was told by Weinstein that he wouldn’t put any money behind promoting her 2005 film “Transamerica” unless she wore Marchesa on the red carpet, THR reports.
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Douglas Hand, fashion lawyer at HBA LLP and professor of fashion law at NYU School of Law, told THR that “losing access to celebrities for red-carpet events would certainly be damaging.”
In the wake of the controversy, a New York fashion publicist who did not want to be named merely told THR, “No star is ever going to want to wear the brand again.”
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