Fashion

Harvey Weinstein’s Fashion Connection

Harvey Weinstein, notorious Hollywood producer and noted sleaze, has been hit with a serious of allegations of sexual assault and indecent exposure dating back decades. The New York Times published a damning exposé of the movie mogul last week and Weinstein has been on damage control mode ever since. The New Yorker followed up with a similar piece, filled with new damning revelations on Tuesday this week. Each publication got statements from women, some anonymous but some on-the-record detailing the gross misconduct of Weinstein over the decades. Subsequently, Weinstein was fired from his own company last weekend, after initially suggesting he would take a “leave of absence” to seek therapy and counseling. Judging by the fact that this behavior has been occurring for decades and Weinstein has continued to abuse his position of power to get what he wanted from people and used it to force people into silence, I somehow believe that counseling won’t do the trick and that this is perhaps just a line to keep people quiet. Weinstein’s connection to the fashion industry comes in the form of his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Georgina Chapman, the co-founder of red-carpet label Marchesa. Despite Weinstein’s lack of professional ties to the company, the brand seems to be collateral damage, marred by the fall-out of the scandal. One can’t help but wonder how many stars wore Marchesa to their premieres just because Weinstein coaxed them to do so. How many stylists does he have a “relationship” with that encourages them to dress their clients in the brand? Furthermore, Weinstein has a lot of friends in the fashion industry, through his wife, who likely knew or at least had an inkling about the kind of man he was and the behavior that he subjected those around him to. One wonders how long this cover-up has gone on for.

The Hollywood Reporter’s coverage of the events surrounding this scandal has been my go-to source as they have information from all sides of the story: the legal side, the movie & Hollywood side, and the fashion side. In an article entitled “Harvey Weinstein puts wife’s Marchesa fashion brand in a tough spot“, THR examines the impact of the scandal on Marchesa, the hugely successful eveningwear (and bridal) line designed by Chapman and her business partner Keren Craig. The label was already beginning to draw criticism for their presentation at Bridal Fashion Week, with one commenter mentioning the link between Chapman profiting off women whilst her husband sexually assaults them. Weinstein’s connection to the fashion industry goes further than just his wife’s brand though. He has served as executive producer on Project Runway, the fashion-design focused competition where his wife has served as a guest judge on numerous occasions. According to the same article, Weinstein’s name has been removed from the credits of the next episode. He is also close friends with Anna Wintour, yet to comment on the allegations, who has helped him set-up a variety of business deals and has hosted events with the mogul. In terms of fashion business ventures, he tried to revive the Halston label in 2007 (with family friend Rachel Zoe as one of the creative consultants) and he bought the Charles James name, known best for the Met Gala exhibition about America’s first couturier.

Weinstein pictured with Rachel Zoe in 2009, who is yet to speak on the scandal.

Weinstein’s close relationships with those in the fashion industry, plus his business interests, make this an interesting connection between what could’ve been a solely Hollywood scandal and one that has now crossed over to a whole new industry (not to mention politics, given that Weinstein is a firm Democrat who has donated millions of dollars to various campaigns for the likes of Hillary Clinton). Disappointingly, few people have spoken out against Weinstein. Donna Karan made a huge PR misstep (and exposed a real personal flaw) when she spoke out in support of Weinstein, citing the way women dress and reinforcing rape culture in one little statement. Her statement, made during a red carpet appearance last Sunday, effectively blamed the victims of Weinstein’s assault because of the way they were dressed, saying “How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?”. Karan received backlash for her comments almost instantaneously from the likes of Rose McGowan (who has been alluding to Weinstein’s behavior for years now) and chef Anthony Bourdain, plus the scorn of the entire internet. The following day, Karan said that her statements had been taken out of context and that they were not intended in that manner. Unfortunately, this apology fell flat, in my opinion, because her initial thoughts on the matter were expressed clearly. Both her initial statement and her apology have been written about in more detail on The Hollywood Reporter, which I will link below. I spotted a few people saying that they should boycott Donna Karan products but this is counterproductive given that she sold her company a few years ago and has no part of the business anymore. Regardless of what people want to do, expressing scorn for Karan’s statement seems like the right idea. Going forward, it will be interesting to see if any more figures in the fashion industry comment on the Weinstein situation.

From what we all know now, Harvey Weinstein has committed some disgusting and unforgivable crimes since her ascent into power, spanning over at least three decades. Not only have these acts taken place, but they have been ignored. Hollywood has taken part in a long-term cover-up, on the lowest level by Miramax employees and all the way up to A-list stars like Matt Damon and Russell Crowe (who were accused of having a story nixed back in 2004). From what has been reported, people have known about Weinstein’s behavior for a long time and have chosen to ignore it for the sake of their careers or fear of legal action from Weinstein’s cutthroat defense team. On top of all of this, many people have benefitted from Weinstein over the years, whether that be in terms of monetary compensation, movie roles, or exposure. His wife apparently knew of his behavior but his connections helped her grow her business, getting it worn by A-listers the year of its launch. I wonder how many other people stayed quiet for similar reasons?

Further (required) reading

The New Yorker exposé

Bridget Foley on Harvey Weinstein – WWD

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