The fashion world is growing increasingly apprehensive about its role in dressing the new first lady, Melania Trump.
French designer Sophie Theallet, a favorite of current first lady Michelle Obama, took to Instagram on Friday to announce that she will refuse to lend her designs to Trump. The move comes on the heels of Vogue stating that it plans to feature Trump on the cover of a future issue, in keeping with its tradition of featuring first ladies as cover stars, which began with the Taft administration.
“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady,” Theallet stated. “The rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared value we live by.”
Theallet’s public statement poses the question of how many brands and designers are actively distancing themselves from Trump following the recent backlash experienced by New Balance. The brand faced widespread criticism and boycotting after its vp of communications said that he looked forward to working with President-elect Donald Trump.
Since the post, there have been more than 7,500 tweets about Theallet’s statement—they revealed widespread support from the fashion community, according to the marketing intelligence platform Affinio. Trump supporters have also weighed in to express their discontent.
I applaud @SophieTheallet, a brand has to stand for something: Melania Trump Protest Designer Refuses To Dress Her https://t.co/1ZBkxRtYkX
— Myra Joloya (@myrajoloya) November 18, 2016
@sophietheallet I don’t think Melania is too worried. Can you imagine her wearing this frumpy rag, lol? pic.twitter.com/q5wel31fbj
— Antiliberal (@raummer20) November 18, 2016
Theallet urged other designers to follow suit, and although several were supporters of the Clinton campaign (even lending their designs to campaign shirts), most have remained mum in regard to their plans for dressing the future first lady. For instance, designer Joseph Altuzarra told The New York Times that, although he doesn’t support Trump, he doesn’t want to be exclusionary. “I don’t want to not dress people I disagree with,” he said.
Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was a vocal supporter of Hillary Clinton—she fundraised for her and made donations to her campaign. She was also behind the decision for Vogue to endorse Clinton, the publication’s first-ever political endorsement. So her decision to feature Melania Trump on a future cover, while an ode to tradition, is being regarded as an abrupt about-face.
“While we never comment on future editorial, Vogue has a long, rich history, dating back to Mrs. Helen Taft, of covering America’s First Ladies, regardless of party affiliation,” a Vogue representative told Business of Fashion.
Vogue also experienced criticism for an article last week on how to wear safety pins to show support for immigrants and minority groups that feel threatened by President-elect Trump, a hat tip to the movement started in England after Brexit. The post stirred up anger, particularly on social media: A tweet from transgender writer and media personality Tyler Ford attacked the publication for recommending a $1,065 diamond and gold safety pin made by Illeana Marki versus a donation.
vogue advises you put your money where your mouth is by spending $1000s at barneys to make a quiet statement. or, you know, you could DONATE pic.twitter.com/oku2S6QXVZ
— Tyler Ford (@tywrent) November 17, 2016