When Fashion and Politics Do Not Mix: Why Some Designers Refused to Dress Ex-First Lady Melania Trump

The prestige of dressing the FLOTUS used to be a prized accomplishment for a top fashion designer. If there’s one way to promote your brand it’s by dressing the First Lady. But several prominent fashion designers refused to dress Melania Trump, with one saying she would not “associate herself in any way” with Melania Trump.

Photo Credit: The Week


Jackie Kennedy was a also certified style icon even before she officially took on the role of first lady, inspiring countless copycats and setting major trends every time she stepped out in a new monochromatic ensemble, Chanel suit, or pillbox hat. But her reign as Queen of Camelot was just the beginning for Jackie O, as she became known after her marriage to Aristotle Onassis in 1968.

Naturally, the former first lady ushered in her new era with a new look, this one centred around billowy maxi dresses and menswear-inspired suits. And, of course, she debuted a new signature accessory: oversized sunglasses.


Jackie Kennedy in oversized sunglasses | Photo Credit: Pinterest


While Jackie loved French designers like Christian Dior, Balenciaga and Givenchy, she mostly wore Cassini’s American-made couture, which shaped the “Jackie Look” that American women emulated in droves. “She’s the only first lady that’s been so well loved on every continent. And she had designers all over the world clamouring for her to wear their designs.


First Lady Jackie Kennedy wearing a fitted silk apricot dress and triple strand of pearls, walking through crowds at Udaipur during visit to India | Photo Credit: Art Rickerby/ Getty Images


Melania Trump is also arguably a fashion icon but there’s several prominent fashion designers who have flat out refused to work her.

Some might say that anything Melania steps out in gets attention but a lot of it is admittedly out of reach for most people. One well-known designer said that was why he wouldn’t work with her, and not because of politics.

“I think that whoever is the President, or the First Lady, should be wearing clothes at a price point that are accessible to most Americans, and wearing clothes made in America,” Tom Ford said on the Golden Globes red carpet.

“My clothes are made in Italy, they’re very, very expensive. I don’t think most women or men in our country can relate to that, and I think the First Lady or the President should represent all people.”

Other designers have refused to dress Melania for political reasons.

Sophie Theallet said:

“The Sophie Theallet brand stands against all discrimination and prejudice. As an independent fashion brand, we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideas.

Our runway shows, ad campaigns, and celebrity dressing have always been a celebration of diversity and a reflection of the world we live in … As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associate myself 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.”

Sophie Theallet vows not to dress Melania Trump, asks other designers to do  the same - Los Angeles Times
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

Clearly it is the odium of Donald Trump having its effect.

Marc Jacobs said he had “no interest whatsoever” in dressing Melania. “Personally, I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by Trump and his supporters,” he said.

Philip Lim said he did not foresee a relationship developing under the Trump administration.

“As a global brand, we are always looking to partner with individuals that we have authentic relationships with – ultimately, women and men that share similar set of values, desires and ideologies: inclusion, diversity, justice, consciousness, innovation,” he told WWD.

Humberto Leon, of Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, lashed out on Facebook in a post about the designers who had said they wouldn’t dress her.

“No one should and if she buys your clothes, tell people you don’t support it. You know who you are!”

But not everyone took that stand, with several others who were still happy to support Melania, particularly the brand she often wears, Dolce & Gabbana.

Despite their support, designers are still met with controversy. When Stefano Gabbana posted a photo of Donald and Melania on New Year’s Eve to thank the First Lady for wearing one of their gowns, he caused controversy in the comments section but jumped in to defend himself.

Melania Trump wears $51K Dolce & Gabbana jacket in Sicily - Chicago Tribune
Melania Trump wears $51K Dolce & Gabbana jacket in Sicily | Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune


“So disappointed” wrote one user, to which Gabbana responded simply: “I don’t care.”

Way to go Stefano, who seems to court PR catastrophes at will.

Manolo Blahnik was forced to respond to criticism after Melania wore his “impractical” sky-high stilettos to visit victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“I don’t think she’s insensitive,” he said in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar UK. “I think she’s working non-stop to make it work – possibly she was just wearing the shoes she left New York in. Yes, I think probably she could have worn Hunter boots but she was wearing what she was wearing.”

There was no pretense about Melania Trump's heels. But sometimes, a little  pretense helps. - Chicago Tribune
Melania Trump wearing Manolo Blahnik stilettos while visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey | Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune


He said he “doesn’t give a damn about” politics, and that “in terms of fashion and beauty” he “loves” Melania, who was a long-time client.

“She’s a beauty and that’s all there is to it,” he said.

And what does Melania say to the fuss ? I guess it’s summed up succinctly on her jacket.


Photo Credit: Pinterest


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