Melania Trump, wife of US president-elect Donald Trump, has a tough sartorial act to follow in Michelle Obama.
The current first lady has dazzled at state dinners in dresses that were smart both in appearance and as political statements. She managed to connect with ordinary Americans in her J.Crew cardigans. Fashion designers were eager to dress her, and she helped build the careers of several young talents.
Whether designers will be equally eager to dress Melania Trump remains to be seen. She’s a former model who could make most designs look good, but many designers publicly rooted for Democrat Hillary Clinton as president. The fashion industry leans liberal and the president-elect’s comments and his choice of Mike Pence as vice president didn’t win him any fans in a woman-dominated, LGBT-friendly industry.
The situation has left designers torn on how to approach Melania. On one hand, she represents the venerable office of first lady; on the other, she is the wife of a man many vehemently disagree with.
Several designers have now told various outlets whether they will or won’t dress Melania, and the responses range from an enthusiastic “yes” to a disdainful “no”—and much in between.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the notable responses:
Tommy Hilfiger: “I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her.” (WWD, paywall)
Yes, because I respect the office
Diane von Furstenberg: “Melania deserves the respect of any first lady before her.” (WWD)
Thom Browne: “Out of respect for the position of the first lady of our United States, I would be honored to be considered to design for any first lady of the United States.” (WWD)
The begrudging “yes”
Marcus Wainwright, Rag & Bone: “It would be hypocritical to say no to dressing a Trump. If we say we are about inclusivity and making American manufacturing great again, then we have to put that before personal political beliefs.” (New York Times, paywall)
Is that a “yes”?
Jeremy Scott, who has his own label and is creative director of Moschino: “I’m going to give Melania the benefit of the doubt…Obviously [Melania] looks great, but I can’t divorce it from who she is. I don’t know Melania. We don’t know Melania.” (Vanity Fair)
Joseph Altuzarra: “I don’t want to not dress people I disagree with.” (New York Times)
Sounds like a “no”
Tom Ford: “I was asked to dress [Melania Trump] quite a few years ago and I declined…She’s not necessarily my image.” (In an interview on The View, as reported by various outlets)
Derek Lam: “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.” (WWD)
Sophie Theallet: “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. The rhetoric of racism, sexism, and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by. I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.” (In a post on Instagram)
Humberto Leon, cofounder of Opening Ceremony and co-creative director of Kenzo: “No one should and if she buys your clothes, tell people you don’t support it. You know who you are!” (In a Facebook post responding to a story on Theallet’s decision)
Marc Jacobs: “I have no interest whatsoever in dressing Melania Trump…Personally, I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by [Donald] Trump and his supporters.” (WWD)