“I don’t think people should become political about it.”
Designer Sophie Theallet caused a stir when she announced she would not dress or design for future First Lady Melania Trump and encouraged other designers to follow her. But famous designer Tommy Hilfiger only had praise for Melania:
“I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her. Ivanka is equally as beautiful and smart, although she wears her own clothes. I don’t think people should become political about it. Everyone was very happy to dress Michelle [Obama] as well. I think they look great in the clothes. You’re not gonna get much more beautiful than Ivanka or Melania.”
Hilfiger knows President-elect Trump and has an office in Trump Tower. He personally donated $5,400 to the Trump campaign while his company Star Branding gave the same amount to Hillary Clinton.
Hilfiger is the first prominent name in fashion to disagree with Theallet after she wrote this letter:
Open letter | Sophie Theallet | November 17th, 2016 pic.twitter.com/g1hIAyBmdF
— sophie theallet (@sophietheallet) November 17, 2016
Not everyone appreciated Theallet’s announcement. Angela Guitard, owner of designer boutique Angela’s in Rye, New York, sent a scathing email to Theallet and vowed to never carry the designer’s collection in her store:
“As an independent store owner unbiased to all, I keep my opinions to myself about politics, especially when it is unwarranted. I am disappointed by your e-mail and the ignorant said content of it. Clearly you are now inflicting your impudent political opinions on others and using social media for promotion. It is disrespectful and unprofessional on many fronts,” Guitard wrote.
“The fact that you have rejected our new president and first lady is not only a slap in the face to me as a U.S. citizen, but you have also insulted the true democracy of this country and negated any openness to unite Americans,” she wrote.
Guitard said the USA has allowed both Theallet and many others, including herself, many opportunities to pursue their dream. “Capitalism is the true mantra of this country; ignorance is not,” Guitard wrote. “I encourage you, as an immigrant to this country, to cherish the USA, the great country you now live in, and embrace our new reign of power in the White House,” she wrote.
Further she added, “It would be anyone’s honor to dress our first lady that this country has chosen.”
Guitard and her husband, both from France, became American citizens this year. They voted for the first time in this presidential election:
“I feel very strongly that he [Donald Trump] won the election, he is our president-elect and you have to respect who the people voted for,” Guitard told WWD. She said she would drop any designers who refuse to dress Melania Trump. She said she hasn’t heard back yet from Theallet, who has dressed First Lady Michelle Obama during the past eight years.
On the campaign trail, sources said that Ivanka and Melania often dressed themselves. That is not necessarily a bad thing since Ivanka has her own brand and Melania always looked fantastic. So it is not a shock that Theallet refused to dress Melania.
But designer Carolina Herrera believes designers who refuse to dress Melania will cave in a few months:
And indeed, politics have also been on Herrera’s mind. She recently dressed Michelle Obama for the cover of American Vogue’s December issue. “Michelle has been impeccable as the first lady,” she says. As for Melania Trump, the designer reckons that her colleagues will soon cotton on to the idea of starting a sartorial conversation with the new first lady.
“I think that in two or three months they’ll reach out, because it’s fashion,” Herrera says. “You’ll see everyone dressing Melania. She’s representing the United States.”
To be sure, Herrera has plenty of history to draw upon to make that sort of educated guess. Much of her success lies in her ability to adapt to present industry demands without shifting her own point of view. “We have to be very conscious now, more than ever, in the fashion world,” she says. “Because it is very flimsy. Everything is changing.”
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