Can we talk about Donna Karan for a moment? The designer is half past her pop culture relevancy, but still very much here.
During a red carpet interview at the CinéFashion Film Awards this week, Karan was asked about the recent sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. (She’s a longtime friend of the disgraced Hollywood giant.) But unlike many public figures who once stood by the film producer and are now condemning him, the DKNY creator not only defended Weinstein, but managed to include a little casual racism by implying that the issue of sexual assault against women is one only experienced in developing countries.
“I think we have to look at ourselves,” she told a Daily Mail reporter. “Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women. To see it here in our own country is very difficult.” (Emphasis ours, obvs.)
Oh? Seems like it’s been “a hard time for women” here in the States for a long time, with the behavior of rich white guys like her buddy and, you know, the sitting president being among the many reasons why.
Karan was involved with the emergency relief efforts for Haiti after Hurricane Matthew via the Urban Zen Foundation, her philanthropic lifestyle brand which works toward “a philosophy of caring.” She also collaborated with the Parsons School of Design in 2015 to open D.O.T aka Design Organization Training, a Haitian vocational education center.
Which clearly makes her an expert on all things Negroid, most especially the tragic condition of the women. The 69-year-old designer then went on to lean on the archaic and dangerous notion that women who dress a certain way are “asking” to be sexually assaulted. And while she did step down from DKNY two years ago, we can’t help but question some of the brand’s design and ad choices with Karan’s commentary in mind.
“How do we present ourselves as women?” Karan continued before commending Weinstein and his wife, Georgina Chapman. “You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”
Of course, Karan attempted to retract her statement on Monday, claiming her words were taken out of context. Funny, since she spoke with a good amount of smug conviction during her interview, which you can watch here.
“Last night, I was honored at the Cinemoi Fashion Film Awards in Hollywood and while answering a question on the red carpet I made a statement that unfortunately is not representative of how I feel or what I believe,” she claimed. “I have spent my life championing women. My life has been dedicated to dressing and addressing the needs of women, empowering them and promoting equal rights. My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein. 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. I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”
In other words, “I’m sorry that I said some wild shit and got called out on it. Whoops!”
Pity she’d cancel herself in the middle of this 90s nostalgia that may have made her brand trendy again. Next!