As it turns out, not everyone agrees with Sophie Theallet’s stance on dressing — or rather, not dressing — future First Lady Melania Trump. The designer revealed last week that she would not dress Trump and encouraged other designers to follow her lead.
“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,” Theallet wrote. Designers stayed mum following her demand — until Nov. 21 at the Angel Ball, when Tommy Hilfiger suggested designers not “become political about it.”
Hilfiger and wife Dee Ocleppo were among those attending the Angel Ball at the Cipriani Wall Street. When asked what he thought of Theallet’s refusal to dress Trump, he responded with compliments for the former model.
“I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her,” Hilfiger 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.”
Theallet did not respond to requests for comment on her missive on Nov. 18. A spokeswomen for Trump also did not respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople for Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors and Dennis Basso declined to comment, as did one for Ivanka Trump, a designer in her own right. Representatives for Carolina Herrera, Rosie Assoulin and Thakoon Panichgul said they were unavailable.
Hilfiger is one of the first designers to speak out about Theallet’s vow not to dress Trump. Perhaps his comments will inspire others to voice their opinions on the matter, too.
At least one retailer is also not happy with Theallet.
Angela’s, a designer boutique in Rye, N.Y., is angry about Theallet’s open letter to designers. Owner Angela Guitard sent Theallet an e-mail Monday morning calling the designer’s move “a slap in the face” to herself as a U.S. citizen, and said she would not carry her collection in her store.
“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,” Guitard wrote.
“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,” she wrote.
Guitard said the USA has allowed both Theallet and many others, including herself, many opportunities to pursue their dream. “Capitalism is the true mantra of this country; ignorance is not,” Guitard wrote. “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,” she wrote.
Further she added, “It would be anyone’s honor to dress our first lady that this country has chosen.”
Guitard told WWD that she used to carry Theallet’s collection, but stopped carrying it about two and a half years ago. She said her husband is also French and has been in the country 25 years and became an American citizen last year. This was the first election he could vote in.
“I feel very strongly that he [Donald Trump] won the election, he is our president-elect and you have to respect who the people voted for,” Guitard told WWD. She said she would drop any designers who refuse to dress Melania Trump. She said she hasn’t heard back yet from Theallet, who has dressed First Lady Michelle Obama during the past eight years.
A spokeswoman for Theallet said the designer was not commenting beyond her original open letter. Asked whether Theallet was a U.S. citizen and voted in the election, the spokeswoman declined comment.