To dress her or not to dress her

How can we help on the eve of this new era?”, Belgian-American fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg wrote on a letter to the more than 500 members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, speaking about who would dress Melania Trump, now she is the new first lady of the United States. According to The New York Times, “she suggested that the answer is to embrace diversity, be open-minded, be generous, have compassion and to be an example of good”. In other words, to not dress Melania Trump.

And this was not the only answer:

  • Sophie Theallet (French designer): “As an independent fashion brand, we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideas.The Sophie Theallet brand stands against all discrimination and prejudice”, a letter that she posted on her Twitter account began. We could also read things like: “I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady, [due to what she called] the rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign”. However, looking Ms. Trump’s styles again, we could not see any Theallet’s looks. How does the fashion designer know that the first lady had any intention to wear her clothes? Rumours?

    Cxf2bkHXcAAltYr.jpg
    Source: Teallet’s Twitter account.
  • Humberto Leon (American designer and creative director, in partnership with Carol Lim, of Kenzo): “No one should [dress Melania Trump] and if she buys your clothes, tell people you don’t support it,” he wrote on his Facebook Page. Once again, Ms. Trump hasn’t worn anything by Kenzo.
  • Jeremy Scott (American fashion designer and Mochino’s creative director): “Obviously [Melania Trump] looks great, but I can’t divorce it from who she is. I don’t know Melania. We don’t know Melania”, he said to Vanity Fair. But let’s remind Mr. Scott that Melania hasn’t worn any Mochino’s piece at all.
  • Then we find what the media (since The New York Times, to Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair, El País or El Mundo) highlights as a fact: Fashion brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, Tory Burch and Vera Wang, won’t dress the new first lady, because they endorsed Hillary Clinton. So, again, rumours and more rumours.

But if what we have just read were somehow true, we would beholding “a meandering tirade of incoherence and contradictions”, as web magazine The Federalist once described Trump’s foreing policy speech. Why? Because many of these fashion companies have already dressed Ms. Trump along her husband’s campaign. This is what I showed you on Melania Trump, style louder than words:

page

Source: GETTY.

At this point, I’m sure we all have already seen them. The one on the left was taken on the election day itself, where Mrs. Trump was wearing a white dress by American designer Michael Kors. The one on the right, the First Lady looks gorgeous in that jumpsuit by Ralph Lauren, also an American brand as you may know. But those are not the only cases that confirms the fact I have stated here. As I’m showing you below these text lines, she has worn Ralph Lauren on several occasions during the Republican campaign throughout the year:

melania-jumpsuit-xlarge_transeo_i_u9apj8ruoebjoaht97ni0tvxucdrfzqt1ponnc
Source: GETTY.

So, I wonder if, back then, they didn’t have any problem with the values and the ideology that Ms. Trump holds. I suppose, and I hope I’m not wrong, she’s the same Melania Trump, isn’t she? Moreover, this issue still disconcerts me, because if they truly embrace diversity and go against all discrimination and prejudice, how do they name this actions,where they urge fashion industry not to dress Melania?

On the other hand, do we have to remind ourselves that Donald Trump’s supporters have the following characteristics?

gender1.png

race.png

age.png

But talking about women in particular, “53 percent of all white female voters picked Mr. Trump”, accoding to an article feautured in The New York Times. And, as we can see on the BBC poll data, they are in their 40s to their 60s. In ddition, Trump’s working class support seems to be a myth according to American statistician and editor – in – chief of FiveThirtyEight ,a website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging, Nate Silver. “It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a “working-class” rebellion against Republican elites. (…) But the definition of “working class” and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like these risk obscuring an important and perhaps counterintuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data, (…) higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton’s (…) supporters, which is around $61,000″, Silver wrote.

And that’s not all:

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME

STATE

CLINTON

TRUMP

Maryland

$92k

$95k

New Hampshire

84

78

Connecticut

102

99

Virginia

83

82

Massachusetts

87

93

Vermont

80

70

Wisconsin

63

69

Missouri

58

62

Illinois

61

79

Pennsylvania

59

71

New York

64

85

Texas

63

78

Michigan

56

61

Georgia

59

70

Ohio

59

64

Oklahoma

57

69

Florida

51

70

North Carolina

59

62

Arkansas

47

63

South Carolina

39

72

Tennessee

61

64

Alabama

44

58

Mississippi

38

62

All states

61

72

Source: EDISON RESEARCH EXIT POLLS, CENSUS BUREAU | NATE SILVER for FiveThirtyEight.

What I want to emphasize here is the fact that all these mentioned fashion brands are high – end companies, orientated to upper/middle class as target market. So, if they go against the people [Donald Trump and his wife, Melania] thay that have defended, wouldn’t it be an insult to their values and freedom of choice too? Will it have any negative impact on sales? Of course I don’t have an answer, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Ivanka Trump’s Manufacturer, owner of Donna Karan Label


If we were just talking about Donna Karan, we necessarily have to talk about Ivanka Trump, Donald’s second eldest children. “For only the second time in its almost 30-year history, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the largest luxury conglomerate in the world, is selling a fashion brand. On Monday [July,25, 2016], the French company said that it had agreed to sell Donna Karan International to G-III Apparel Group, the American manufacturing and licensing company that owns Andrew Marc, Vilebrequin and Bass and holds the licenses for Ivanka Trump, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, among others”, we read in The New York Times. So, it is funny to think that a fashion company that owns brands that suddenly don’t want to dress the first lady, such as Calvin Klein and now Donna Karan, is also the company that holds Ivanka Trump’s license. But I suppose that a transaction with an enterprise value of $650 million solves everything. Or maybe not.

Trump_Family_Tree.png
Source: Google.

Tommy Hilfiguer, one of the few exceptions


After Sophie Theallet’s letter, there were also fashion designers who showed no problem on dressing Melania. One of them was Tommy Hilfiguer: “I think any designer should be proud to dress her,” he told on an interview for Women’s Wear Daily. “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”.

Reading this, one can wonder if Hilfiguer is doing it because it’s his job or because “[he] has known the president-elect for some time, and his company, Star Branding, has an office in Trump Tower (…) and he donated $5,400 to Trump’s presidential campaign “, as ABC News reported. “His corporation”, they explained (just in case), “gave the same amount to Hillary Clinton’s”. Let’s not think that anything of what we have read before has influenced Hilfiguer to declared in Ms.Trump’s favor.

At the end, “everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it’s someone else’s witch being hunted”, as American novelist Walter Kirn stated once. Well then, let’s pretend, dear fashion companies, that now you are worried about moral components, saying you won’t dress the first lady of the United States of America.

To dress her or not to dress her, that is still the question.

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