First ladies have served as a canvas for both established and up-and-coming designers for decades. But it looks like the incoming FLOTUS may have a harder time leaving her fashion mark on history.
Last week, French-born designer Sophie Theallet, whose vibrant designs have been spotted frequently on Michelle Obama, shared an official statement on Twitter saying that she will not provide clothing for Melania Trump.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Apparently, Theallet isn’t the first designer to distance herself from the Trumps. People reports that during the election campaign, several undisclosed designers refused to provide clothing for Melania or for the president-elect’s daughters Ivanka and Tiffany. As a result, the three pulled wardrobe pieces from Ivanka’s eponymous fashion line, bought them online and “shopped their closets.”
Although no other designers have come forth to outright state they will not dress the next FLOTUS, a few have pledged to donate some or all of their proceeds to charities that came under threat during Trump’s campaign, like Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter.
New York-based designer Kaelen Haworth, who designs the Kaelen label, announced on Nov. 11 that all the designs on her website would be sold at a 75 per cent discount for one week, and all proceeds would be donated to one of 17 charities that were targeted by the Trump campaign.
Similarly, The Outrage, an ethical fashion brand with a feminist focus, pledged to donate 100 per cent of the proceeds from their “Pantsuit Nation” range to Planned Parenthood.
“To have such a qualified, intelligent and inspiring woman come so close and lose like this is absolutely devastating,” co-founder Rebecca Correa Funk said to Marie Claire. “But it’s also a signal that we have a lot of work to do.”
The range includes tank tops, T-shirts, sweatshirts, baby onesies, mugs and cotton tote bags.
It may seem unwise to take such a decisive stand, but for someone like Theallet, who is herself an immigrant (she’s now based in New York), some of the things espoused by Trump during the campaign felt like a direct threat.
“I am well aware it is not wise to get involved in politics,” she wrote. “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.”
It seems doubtful, however, that the incoming First Lady will have trouble finding designers willing to dress her.