Trump in a white, fitted dress with dramatic
sleeves by London-based designer Roksanda Ilincic
or not, it seems almost everyone has something to say
about the outcome of the presidential election.
the campaign, the fashion community didnít skimp on
its support for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Vogue editor Anna Wintour held a fundraiser for her
during New York Fashion Week, while designers such as
Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch and Public Schoolís Maxwell
Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow created "Made for
History" merchandise for her online store. For his
fall collection, Iranian-Israeli designer Elie Tahari
even featured a female president in his advertisements.
Itís no surprise, then, that their relationship with
Donald and Melania Trump has gotten off to a rocky
her model roots, donít expect to see designers
enthusiastically jockeying to dress the incoming first
lady. French designer Sophie Theallet, whoís outfitted
Michelle Obama, shared an open letter on social media
stating she will not "participate in dressing or
associating in any way with the next first lady"
ó and sheís encouraging others to do the same.
Humberto Leon, one of the founders and designers behind
Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, has echoed her sentiments on
his Facebook page: "If she buys your clothes, tell
people you donít support it." (A number of other
designers have declined to comment or have responded
with vague answers when asked for their take on the
be too quick to call this sore-loser syndrome. For many
fashion insiders ó an industry largely comprosed of
women, minorities, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ
community ó a Clinton loss cuts deeply. Just as the
cast of the Tony Award-winning musical
"Hamilton" used the theater to deliver a
message of concern and hope to Vice President-elect Mike
Pence, designersí apparel and accessories are their
platform to push their plea.
rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by
her husbandís presidential campaign are incompatible
with the shared values we live by," wrote Theallet,
who came to America to pursue her career.
some prominent fashion media sites are weighing in.
and/or his Vice President-elect Mike Pence have been
openly hostile regarding LGBTQ equality, same-sex
marriage, female reproductive rights, immigration reform
and international trade (just to scratch the surface)
ó stances that not only alienate a good portion of the
fashion community, but the nation as a whole. And this
is why we plan on having no part in normalizing the
Trump family, particularly when it comes to cataloging
the first ladyís fashion choices,"
Fashionista.com explained in an editorial published last
month. The piece went on to say that the website will
reserve coverage of Mrs. Trumpís fashions for
"strictly newsworthy occasions."
the Obama administration, fashionís whoís who have
gotten pretty friendly with the first family. Mrs. Obama
welcomed students from across the country to the White
House for a fashion workshop as part of her Reach Higher
education initiative. They got the chance to hear advice
for making it in the industry from the likes of Diane
von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu and Tracy
Reese. She also encouraged diversity, entrepreneurship
and American-made brands through her wardrobe picks and
helped to skyrocket the careers of emerging talents like
Wu, who designed the gowns she wore to inaugural balls
in 2009 and 2013.
thereís whatís come to be known as "the
Michelle Obama effect." For 189 public appearances
she made between November 2008 and December 2009, she
generated about $2.7 billion in value for the companies
whose pieces she sported, according to a study by David
Yermack, professor of finance at the New York University
Stern School of Business.
far, Melania Trump has opted for off-the-rack outfits by
Ralph Lauren (whoís outfitted Clinton for decades),
Gucci and Fendi, to name a few. A Trump spokesperson
told Womenís Wear Daily after the Republican National
Convention that she wasnít working one-on-one with any
designers. While itís unknown if that will change, her
clothes already have been sparking sales. For instance,
the white fitted dress with bell sleeves by London-based
designer Roksanda Ilincic that she wore to give her
convention speech swiftly sold out after her appearance.
It retailed for $2,190 at net-a-porter.com.
irony of all this, however, is that if designers turn
their backs on Melania Trump, they run the risk of being
discriminatory themselves. We donít know much about
Melania Trump or what kind of first lady she will be. Is
it smart to shut her out, all the while Donald Trump is
being criticized for shutting out Muslims, Hispanics,
women, etc., with his brash rhetoric?
can we help on the eve of this new era?" von
Furstenberg wrote in a letter to the 500-plus members of
the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the
nonprofit governing body for fashion in America. Her
suggestions: "Embrace diversity, be open-minded, be
generous and have compassion." (She was a very
public advocate for Clinton during the campaign.)
going to give Melania the benefit of the doubt,"
Jeremy Scott, the creative director for Moschino and his
own namesake label, told Vanity Fair. Tommy Hilfiger,
Carolina Herrera, Rag & Boneís Marcus Wainwright
and Joseph Altuzarra are a few others who are open to
giving her a chance.
that chance be reciprocated? Time, and perhaps Melania
Trumpís sartorial taste come January, will tell.