Donna Karan and the fashion industry’s Harvey Weinstein ‘problem’

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Designer Donna Karan has drawn stinging criticism after appearing to justify Harvey Weinstein

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Oh Donna.

If it wasn’t bad enough that half of Hollywood has been drawn into the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal, now the fashion industry has come in for its share of collateral damage.


Weinstein scandal deepens and darkens

Rape, harassment and intimidation are just a few allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein in an explosive New Yorker article.

As news broke on Tuesday that designer Donna Karan had suggested Weinstein’s victims may have brought his reprehensible – and potentially illegal – behaviour upon themselves, the internet was quick to rebuke the fashion veteran.

“I also think, ‘How do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women?” Karan said on Sunday at the CineFashion Film Awards. “What are we asking? Are we asking for it, by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”

Actress Rose McGowan, one of several woman who have gone public with allegations against Weinstein, gave Karan one of the sharpest rebukes.

“Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress,” McGowan tweeted.

“No more Donna Karan for me,” echoed Mia Farrow.

And the reaction wasn’t limited to celebrities, with many on social media saying they would no longer shop Karan’s labels, DKNY and Donna Karan New York, even though Karan herself is no longer associated with the businesses.

Some consumers suggested donating their DKNY cast-offs to a women’s shelter, so they could “do something good from all this”.

The controversy led to the hashtags #DKNoWay and calls to petition Karan’s new company, Urban Zen, against her behaviour.

On Wednesday morning Australian time, Karan issued an apology, saying she had been “taken out of context”.

“I believe that sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual,” a Karan statement said. “I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”

But consumers appeared unmoved, with the social media backlash continuing and shares in DKNY’s parent company, G-III Apparel Group, down more than 3 per cent on Wednesday.

The lesson? Anyone sticking by Weinstein, or appearing to stick by Weinstein, is in for a very public, and potentially damaging, condemnation.

Until this morning, Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, one half of design duo Marchesa, was sticking by him. But as the number of victims mounted – Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie are the latest to accuse the exiled Miramax boss of harassment – Chapman’s support obviously reached breaking point and she announced she would be seeking a divorce.

Chapman, 41, married Weinstein, 65, in 2007. They have two children, a daughter, India Pearl, and a son, Dashiell.

Even more complicated for Chapman, her fashion label has appeared in many of her estranged husband’s films and dressed many of their stars on the Oscars red carpet, among other events.

Sticking with him would no doubt have had a profound effect on her business. Or would it?

As John Galliano proved, the fashion world has a long memory, but it is capable of forgiveness.

Galliano was fired from Dior in 2011 after a drunken, antisemitic rant in which he allegedly professed his love for Hitler.

After years in fashion’s deep freeze, Maison Margiela took a risk appointing Galliano as creative director in 2014 and he appears to have been embraced back into the haute couture bosom.

In 2015, he even gave a talk to the Jewish community in London talking about his experience.

“I used to blame everyone for what happened, but now I bear no resentment. I have finally come to terms with what happened and what was my part in it,” he said.

On Wednesday, Karan was swift to apologise for her remarks about Weinstein but it remains to be seen if the damage will be long-lasting.

If nothing else, many in the fashion world will look at her today with fresh eyes. And, as we all know, the eyes are often the most direct route to the hip-pocket nerve.

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