Last week, designer Sophie Theallet (who has dressed Michelle Obama) released an eloquent statement regarding Melania Trump. She said that she would not dress Mrs. Trump, because “the rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by.” Other designers have not weighed in on the issue, although the statement caused a bit of a sensation within the fashion press and industry.
But then, Tommy Hilfiger, a designer who has a complicated and controversial relationship with the Black community, commented as well. On Monday night at the Angel Ball in New York City, Hilfiger told WWD that he would dress both Melania and Ivanka Trump. “I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her,” he said. “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.”
Since fashion is about representation, it is almost always political in some way — Hilfiger’s words show a fundamental misunderstanding of his own industry. His claim that designers should dress Melania and Ivanka simply because of their beauty is fairly misogynist, playing into Trump’s own sexist values. It’s all just pretty gross.
Trump has led a racist campaign and appointed known white supremacists like Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions to his administration. Hilfiger’s careless words once ago show that he doesn’t exactly have much consideration for Black people, although his clothes were incredibly popular in hip-hop for a long time. Rumors of racist statements have dogged the designer for years, although the Anti-Defamation League concluded that racist emails supposedly sent from the designer were fakes.
(Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Gabrielle's Angel Foundation)
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