To Dress or Not to Dress??


To dress Melania Trump or not dress Melania, with fashion & politics mixing, that is the question! As of late, a host of designers have been posed the question and stating what they would do. I am not a designer, but I have definitely formulated my own thoughts and opinions on the matter, so here goes. But first, a little background on how this all came to be.


Fashion designer Sophia Theallet, one of outgoing first lady Michelle Obama’s go-to designers, recently posted an open letter asking fellow designers to boycott and to not dress Melania. Ms. Theallet of course has her reasoning, mainly stemming from a dislike and disagreement of President-elect Trump and is forthcoming presidency. My initial thought on reading this was why she posted the letter? Was she asked to dress Melania? I haven’t yet read where the designer was asked to do so. Naturally, I would assume Melania and whatever stylist team she was working with would not first approach Michelle’s go-to closet of designers. I wasn’t also surprised that not every designer would want to loan out pieces to Melania as this recent election was certainly a very polarizing one. I then landed on an age-old saying — “there is no such thing as bad press.”


I do not doubt for one minute that Theallet is not a Trump supporter, but what better way to not only keep your name in the press, but to also increase the presence than calling for a boycott. Because of how much I do in fashion, I of course know Theallet and her work. In fact, a couple of times, I have featured her work as part of my best dressed lists, such as Anna Chlumsky at the 2015 Tony Awards. I don’t gather that her brand is as well known as that say of a Ralph Lauren or Michael Kors, but I imagine she has been introduced to a lot more people now. Additionally, because of the anti-Trump sentiments, specifically in Hollywood, she may get some new work opportunities. And following from this, now many designers, who have too not yet been asked to dress Melania, are weighing in. These designers are of course a bit more established, but with the question now floating about, any designer is of course going to state their opinions as well.


Those who have also said they would not dress Melania, Marc Jacobs — “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.”

Derek Lam — “What a tough question to answer now that the election has been decided! I’ve been slammed on social media when expressing an opinion about the election outcome. I was warned by people that I should not make an opinion which could alienate a client. Having been duly warned, my response is, while I have incredible respect for our country’s political institutions, I find it challenging to be personally involved in dressing the new first lady. I would rather concentrate my energies on efforts towards a more just, honorable and a mutually respectful world. I don’t know Melania Trump personally, so I don’t wish my comments to seem I am prejudging her personal values, but I really don’t see myself getting involved with the Trump presidency.”

I believe Derek made a good point about alienating clients. This leads to one of my reasons as to why designers should make their own decision, but to not write the opportunity off so easily. And if a designer did choose to reject an actual offer to dress Melania, I wouldn’t be so quick to brag about the rejection. Like it or not, President-elect Trump did win the election. Of course he has his haters, but he too has supporters. Household names in fashion I think would not be so quick to risk backlash on a decision such as this. And that could happen. Those who have also said they would not dress Melania are Phillip Lim and Tom Ford. Although with Mr. Ford, what wasn’t quite so prevalent in the headline, was that he too wouldn’t dress Hillary Clinton!

But one designer who I think hit the nail on the head was the lovely Diane von Furstenberg. She said, “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.”

A major fear of those on the anti-Trump side has been all about issues with diversity and inclusiveness. The answer to combat this is not to act in the same manner. I would think leading by example would work better than boycotting. Again, I wouldn’t expect every designer would want to dress Melania. However, putting forth such strong desires to not do so in such a public forum is a bit hypocritical, especially when one is wanting or expecting a change in behavior and actions with this forthcoming presidency.

Tommy Hilfiger and Thom Browne both have said they too would dress the first lady and would consider it an honor. Whether one agrees with Trump being our next President, it is still such a huge opportunity for one to be given the chance to dress the first lady. Both established designers and those still working to build their brand are given the chance to do so. Established designers might have a bit more flexibility in their decisions to dress Melania or not, but I imagine they would consider their views a bit more carefully before decisions and severe expressions are made. Vera Wang was a bit ambiguous in her response, but I believe she would ultimately decide to dress Melania as she would want the first lady to support American fashion. And her “PC” answer is a bit more in line of what I would expect from an established designer. I must point out though, in response to Vera Wang, that it would be hard for Melania to demonstrate continued support of American fashion designers if those designers choose to follow Theallet and her call for a boycott.

But on the flip side, an independent or emerging designer would have to realize the potential in the opportunity. It could not only be a once in a lifetime opportunity, but also one that could lend to repetition, as in the chance to repeatedly dress the first lady. This sort of goes back to the “no press is bad press” sentiment. Could a designer receive some backlash for dressing Melania? Of course. But with that decision, you would also receive some support, and ultimately, it is press for your brand. And that is very important for emerging designers to accumulate.

Cynthia Rowley too made some great points — “In the midst of this heated debate, the question actually seems somewhat irrelevant. She 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. Some people say fashion and politics should never mix, but when given the choice, I think you should address and dress your conscience.”

The first lady, just as any other lady must do, has to create a look for every day. Yes, there are certain occasions that might warrant a more special look. But Melania will be in the public eye daily. Most of her wardrobe will not be from designer loans. So in regard to some of the debate going on about dressing Melania, some of it is a bit moot.

I was happy to see that Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley spoke to the Daily Mail about the future First Lady, whom he styled for her 2005 wedding. He would be in support of designers working with Melania. He had nothing but positive things to say about her.

I did read what might have been some unsubstantiated gossip that designers have already not been working with Melania, but also Ivanka and Tiffany. They made purchases or wore Ivanka’s brand. However, this was during the campaign, and I expect things to be different now that the election is over. Just as many stars and actors said they would leave the U.S. if Trump was elected President, of course they didn’t and are not going to! But I imagine designers will too change their tune once the dust settles some. And those who may have not loaned pieces this year, might do so over the next 4 years!

Celebs Buying Their Own Red Carpet Gowns — A Scandal??


So we are in the midst of red carpet season — The Grammy’s, Golden Globes, SAG Awards & with the Oscar’s still to come. Outside of best & worst dressed lists there was one other topic that made some headlines recently — Hayden Panettiere buying her own dress for the Golden Globes. To me this sounds like “Wow, who cares, big deal!” I was surprised it was even discussed and thankfully that all seems to have subsided, I imagine because the whole issue was kind of pointless. But since it was discussed, I now have time to add in my 2 cents so here goes!

71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - ArrivalsSo Hayden is a huge fan of designer Tom Ford. The deal with red carpets usually goes that a designer lends their gowns/dresses to a celeb to wear via their stylist; this even goes to the jewelry, the heels, and the clutch. Generally you will only see 1 designer look per red carpet. Although lately, I’ve seen a few doubles — Lena Dunham & Sofia Vergara in Zac Posen at the Golden Globes; Virginie Ledoyen & Chiara Ferragni in Alberta Ferretti at the Venice Film Festival; Selena Gomez & Shannon Bex (of Danity Kane) in Versace at the 2013 VMAs. And heck, when you get to the accessories you see Jimmy Choo heels, Lorraine Schwartz  or Harry Winston jewelry, and Edie Parker clutches all over the place! But so if Hayden wants to wear a Tom Ford dress and she has yet to have the opportunity to borrow one, it makes no logical sense why this is a bad thing.

index                                                                                 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards - ArrivalsFirst off, Hayden didn’t do this intentionally or at least with any malice in mind. She loves a designer and wants to wear a piece from the designer. So she did what any other person in the world that could and would do — she bought a dress & wore it! She attempted the borrow method and it was not an option so she risked loss of status and having to wear a dress from last season just to show her support. And you can’t forget, she paid the big bucks, $10K to be exact!

Secondly, Mr. Ford didn’t seem all to bothered since he sent Panettiere flowers to thank her for the support, which she tweeted about. Even though, a point was made when Tom Ford’s reps said they didn’t “officially” dress the Nashville star. And Ford is known for wanting that fashion moment by usually only dressing 1 female per red carpet.

Bd84zozCMAADW0WBut how bad could it be to double up on that fashion moment? Naomi Watts was the lucky lottery winner for the Tom Ford look on the night of the Golden Globes and she certainly stunned. But it’s not like Hayden didn’t receive great comments as well. So now, Ford is getting even more recognition, and for what?? — exactly what he should want, his stunning designs and creations.

naomi-watts-2-290And yes, a designer is certainly about the creative process, but making money certainly fits into that equation too! For this situation, several parties are making money on it — the store and the designer. I think this older comment I found from “The Fashion Spot” is quite literally spot on! These dresses range from $5000 and even up to $30,000. Most gowns are on loan and so it leaves me to wonder who is buying these lavish gowns? I’m sure people are, but you have to think that number is very limited — someone with money and a place to wear it. Hayden’s dress was from last season and clearly still available so it’s not a bad thing for it to be purchased now. The longer it stays on the rack, the more money that is lost, DUH!

Kate Hudson recently discussed the issue of loaning gowns and about why she doesn’t purchase the ones she wears, simply put, it’s too expensive! Of course this was in no relation to this recent fashion “faux pas.” This again goes to show that the celebs & the Hollywood crowd are not buying these lavish gowns. So if a celeb wants to splurge once a year on a gown then perhaps the fashion world should encourage this rather than disc, shame, and pick fun at! Maybe that is why celebs haven’t done this too often before. But consider this, if it’s a big honor for a designer to loan you a dress, isn’t it just as big an honor for a person to spend $1000s on that designer’s dress?

o-KATE-HUDSON-570Also, it might be this big anointing feeling when a major designer wants you to wear their look, but you have to remember one thing, the celeb is very seldom given that dress. Yes, J.Law looks great in Dior, but she is not keeping all those dresses and that is the same for other designer/celeb partnerships — Taylor Schilling w/ Thakoon or Kristen Stewart with Balenciaga. I think if people weren’t worried about this backlash they might splurge once in awhile. Again, this boosts the economy and specifically to the fashion sector, no harm, no foul.

The major contention seems to be coming from fashion journalist Jim Shi and a tweet of his — “Hayden Panettiere BOUGHT her Tom Ford dress at RETAIL. Tsk tsk”, which is apparently the equivalent of “sorry, this seat is taken!” Although, I’ve yet to find another site or critic who was quite so harsh. It’s nice to see that most fashion critics and journalists get the logic here.

And is this all really unheard of? I didn’t go back to discover past celebs who’ve purchased items for the red carpet, but apparently Edie Falco also bought her Lanvin gown, which she too wore at the Golden Globes. Emma Roberts was also in Lanvin on the same night, but Edie’s purchase wasn’t discussed in any of the various articles on this fashion rule that was supposedly broken by Hayden, kind of odd??

Edie-Falco-GOlden-GLobes-20141I say go Hayden, go Edie, and go whomever else wants to treat themselves every once in awhile and wear what they want. If you don’t make that designer’s short list, to heck with it! No one should be made to feel that they are not worthy enough to wear a gown. If they are willing to go the distance in buying a gown, support that, don’t hate!

In the meantime, I can’t wait for fashion week and more red carpets!!