Stepping out: Yes, President Trump will hit various balls to celebrate his inauguration on Jan. 20, but the motivation for many to head to the nation's capital that weekend isn't celebration but protest.


Come inauguration night, the newly sworn-in President Trump will be testing his celebrity pull as he hops between two official inaugural balls as well as the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball. And — at least according to Trump — the celebrities are lining up for tickets. It just isn’t clear who they are.

“We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Trump told the New York Times earlier this week. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.”

This story first appeared in the January 11, 2017 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Robin Givhan, the fashion critic at The Washington Post, responded by tweeting “For inaugural, #neimanmarcus has some 2,000 dresses between its two stores here. #nodressshortage.”

Neiman’s senior vice president and fashion director Ken Downing also said the department store is well stocked. “We always anticipate and prepare every four years for the presidential Inauguration, having a
spectacular and large selection of evening gowns and coats as it is generally very cold this time of year in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “We always have very strong selling in our evening departments no matter the elected party or individual.”

With all those dresses available, First Lady-to-be Melania Trump shouldn’t have any trouble finding
one — or a designer to create one for her. While there had initially been an outcry from the fashion world following Trump’s election and a vow by many designers that they would not dress the new First Lady, others like Tommy Hilfiger and Carolina Herrera have said they wouldn’t hesitate to do so if asked. Even Tom Ford, who has been widely quoted as saying he wouldn’t dress Melania, clarified his remarks at the Golden Globes over the weekend, saying that he wouldn’t have dressed any of the females, even if Hillary Clinton had won.

“I think whomever is president or the first lady should be wearing clothes at a price point that is accessible to most Americans and wearing clothes that are made in America,” he said. “My clothes are made in Italy and are very expensive and I don’t think most women wear them in our country. The first lady or the president should represent all people. Especially given this president’s beliefs about Made in America.”

Still, don’t expect too many fashion scenesters and editors to be gussied up in black tie, sashaying with Trump — safe to say he’s still not the most celebrated man in such circles. They will be trekking down to the capital for the weekend to partake in the grassroots movement known as the Women’s March on Washington — as well as perhaps other marches that will take place from Jan. 19.

As for the Women’s March, it will begin on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m., with an estimated 200,000 people expected to congregate at Independence Avenue and Third Street SW for the march. While organizers have noted the rally isn’t pointedly anti-Trump, the event is drawing enthusiasm from many of Hillary Clinton’s strongest supporters.

“I think there’s definitely a lot of the New York fashion community that is coming down to the march,” said Bob Bland, chief executive officer and founder of Manufacture New York, who is one of the march’s organizers. “In the same way that the sustainability movement in fashion is very contentious, very socially responsible, very cognizant of social issues like human rights — this movement resonates in the same way. So we’re seeing an intersectionality of women and male allies from all sorts of different backgrounds merging forth.”

Mara Hoffman was one of several designers who banded together late last year to raise funds for the march by hosting flash sales. “I definitely don’t know one female-run fashion business that doesn’t feel that they are somewhat affected by this, or that they need to take a stand within this,” she said. “I think in general the fashion industry feels things, and wants to be involved, and doesn’t necessarily know where sometimes to focus.”

Designers such as Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg and Prabal Gurung have all said they don’t plan to attend, while Rachel Comey, Aurora James and Hoffman do plan to make the trip. Condé Nast artistic director and Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour — a staunch Clinton supporter and fund-raiser — is unlikely to show given the couture shows in Paris.

“It’s not easy for me to go because I need to be in Paris on the 23rd,” agreed Julie Gilhart, who has been involved in coordinating the flash sales. “So it kind of tests…I never want to make people feel excluded and maybe some people don’t want to march or they’re afraid of crowds, but it really tested how I felt about it. Some companies can’t take the stand because it’s too much risk, but there are some people who are taking the stand, which I think is awesome.”

James, who is closing up shop for the day so that her staff can all attend the march, sees it as a test of one’s business and moral practices.

“Fashion, at the end of the day, is a business, and I think that people — and to a certain degree it’s justified — I think a lot of people are a little bit nervous to get on board with things that sometimes might jeopardize or alienate part of their customer base,” she said. “And for me, I think that it’s all about why you create something and why you get into something. I think that it’s easy for people to verbalize certain things, and I think that in the space we’re in now, we have to look at what supporting something means.”

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