Update, 3/11/17: Zac Posen is the latest designer to speak out against the idea of dressing the First Lady.
“[I have] no current plans to dress members of the first family,” he told The Daily Beast. “Right now, I’m staying away from bringing my brand into politics. There are issues that are being questioned that are fundamentally upsetting to me — deeply: LGBT rights, immigration, funding for the arts, Planned Parenthood, and women’s rights. These are just issues that are very close to my heart, and I use my own private voice and funds to fight for them and in support of them. I think it’s important to use your voice. I think that every brand and person has a right to be vocal. … I am very upset with the state of affairs right now. I always try to be optimistic. I think freedom will prevail. And I don’t dictate who buys my clothing in a store.”
Update, 1/2/17: Another major designer has chimed in on the debate of dressing the future First Lady.
Stefano Gabbana took to Instagram last night to happily show off Melania Trump wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress on New Year’s Eve, a black figure-hugging sleeveless design with an embellished bow on each strap. Gabbana even dubbed her a “DG woman.”
Trump was also seen sporting Dolce & Gabbana in the days leading up to the election, along with looks by Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and other brands, which she reportedly bought in New York City or online.
Gabbana joins designers like Tommy Hilfiger, Diane Von Furstenberg and Thom Browne, who have expressed that they would dress the future FLOTUS. Others like Sophie Theallet (the first designer to openly speak out on the topic after the election),Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, Phillip Lim and others have publicly refused.
Original post, 11/30/16: “Will you dress future First Lady Melania Trump?” seems to be the question of the moment for fashion designers. After the fashion industry as a whole predominantly voiced enthusiastic support for Hillary Clinton throughout the 2016 election, designers are now faced with the possibility of dressing Melania Trump instead—something many designers seem to be conflicted about.
Sophie Theallet was the first designer to take a stance on the issue, releasing an open letter announcing she will not dress the future First Lady and urging other designers to do the same. On the other side of the debate is Tommy Hilfiger, who revealed he would be “proud” to dress both Melania and Ivanka Trump.
Until today, those two designers were the only ones to publicly comment on the topic. This morning, WWD brought more of fashion’s influential voices into the conversation, publishing a piece which posed the question, “Would you dress Melania Trump?” to nine designers, including Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne, Vera Wang and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg.
Von Furstenberg remained pretty neutral on the subject, saying, “Donald Trump was elected and he will be our president. Melania deserves the respect of any First Lady before her. Our role as part of the fashion industry is to promote beauty, inclusiveness, diversity. We should each be the best we can be and influence by our example.”
But Jacobs didn’t hide his feelings: “I have no interest whatsoever in dressing Melania Trump. I didn’t see [Sophie Theallet’s] letter. Personally, I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by [Donald] Trump and his supporters,” Jacobs told WWD.
Meanwhile, Cynthia Rowley stepped in as a voice of reason, commenting on the entire discussion as a whole: “In the midst of this heated debate, the question actually seems somewhat irrelevant,” she said. “[Melania] can simply purchase whatever she wants, so how can we control it? Just because she’s shown wearing a designer does not mean that designer is endorsing her, her husband or any of their beliefs. Checking someone’s ethical beliefs before they’re allowed to purchase sets up an exclusionary dynamic that feeds into the exact mentality that is preventing us from moving forward in a positive direction.”
By Harper’s Bazaar