Politics has become part of the fabric of our daily lives. It’s on our TVs, our social media feeds, and now it seems politics has made it’s way into fashion conversations.
Following the election, fashion designer and chairwoman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Diane Von Furstenberg sent an email to over 500 members. As a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, Von Furstenberg offered advice to the other members:
“Dear Fellow Designers,
Fashion is a reflection of the time, so how can we help on the eve of this new era?…We must believe we can make a difference and use our influence by creating beauty, optimism and happiness. More than ever, we must embrace diversity, be open minded, be generous and have compassion.”
One designer seemed to feel a different course of action was best when dealing with the new first family. Sophie Theallet, outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama’s signature designer, posted an open letter on her social media pages saying she would not dress the new First Lady.
Open letter | Sophie Theallet | November 17th, 2016 pic.twitter.com/g1hIAyBmdF
— sophie theallet (@sophietheallet) November 17, 2016
“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. Our runway shows, ad campaigns, and celebrity dressing have always been a celebration of diversity and a reflection of the world we live in.
I am well aware it is not wise to get involved in politics. That said, as a family-owned company, our bottom line is not just about money. We value our artistic freedom and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious and ethical way to create in this world.
As an immigrant myself in this country, I have been blessed with the opportunity to purse my dreams in the USA. Dressing the First Lady Michelle Obama for the past 8 years has been a highlight and an honor. She has contributed to having our name recognized and respected worldwide.
Her values, actions and grace have always resonated deeply within me.
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
Integrity is our only true currency.”
After reading that letter, Angela Guitard, owner of New York designer boutique, Angela’s, said she would no longer carry Sophie Theallet’s collection in her store.
In an email she sent the designer, she said:
“As an independent store owner unbiased to all, I keep my opinions to myself about politics, especially when it is unwarranted. I am disappointed by your e-mail and the ignorant said content of it. Clearly you are now inflicting your impudent political opinions on others and using social media for promotion. It is disrespectful and unprofessional on many fronts.
The fact that you have rejected our new president and first lady is not only a slap in the face to me as a U.S. citizen, but you have also insulted the true democracy of this country and negated any openness to unite Americans.
Capitalism is the true mantra of this country; ignorance is not. I encourage you, as an immigrant to this country, to cherish the USA, the great country you now live in, and embrace our new reign of power in the White House.”
Guitard added, “It would be anyone’s honor to dress our first lady that this country has chosen.”
It seems at least one high-profile designer agrees with the clothing store owner.
Tommy Hilfiger, best known for his preppy, ‘All-American’ style, recently gave his opinion on dressing the new First Lady. At the Angel Ball on Monday night, he told Women’s Wear Daily:
“I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her. Ivanka is equally as beautiful and smart, although she wears her own clothes.”
He continued, complimenting both the current and future First Ladies:
“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.”
It’s not uncommon for the incoming First Lady to wear clothes by a different designer than her predecessor. The clothes are often donated to the National Archives, where many different designers are represented.
It’s uncertain which designers will be dressing the future First Lady, but considering Mrs. Trump is a former model herself — and after the fashion precedent set by Michelle Obama — it’s safe to say we can expect a fashionable four years.