Donna Karan has stepped into the Harvey Weinstein controversy — and G-III Apparel Group, parent company of the DKNY and Donna Karan brands, is feeling the backlash, with some people calling for boycotts.
Karan set off a firestorm Monday night when she came out in support of her friend Harvey Weinstein. At a Cinémoi Fashion Film Awards event in Hollywood, she told the Daily Mail that sexually harassed women may be “asking for it” by dressing seductively.
“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,” she told the Daily Mail in a red carpet interview.
Within four hours, Karan’s publicists were backpedaling, people were threatening to boycott Donna Karan, and PR Consulting issued a statement from Karan, which read: “Last night, I was honored at the Cinémoi 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. 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,” Karan said.
During the Hollywood event Sunday night, Karan had expounded on the Weinstein situation, saying, “To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are you asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?”
Karan, a cofounder of Donna Karan International, who is no longer involved in the firm and has a separate business Urban Zen, is a personal friend with Weinstein’s wife, Georgina Chapman, codesigner of Marchesa. She described the couple as “wonderful people,” adding, “Harvey has done some amazing things.” Asked by the Daily Mail if Weinstein had been “busted,” she reportedly smiled and told the paper, “I don’t think it’s only Harvey Weinstein.”
Even though Karan is no longer involved with her brand, G-III’s shares were down 3.36 percent in pre-market trading.
Morris Goldfarb, chairman and chief executive officer of G-III, declined comment.
On Sunday night, Weinstein was fired from his company over reports of sexual harassment complaints against him.
On Tuesday, the morning shows weighed in on the Karan controversy and whether women are inviting “trouble” based on how they dress.
On NBC’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” Kelly said, “Unfortunately, [Donna Karan] is not the only one who apparently thinks this way and it is wrong. It’s seriously wrong. Let’s be perfectly clear right now. Women sometimes make bad fashion choices, including at the office. This does not invite their own harassment. Period. End of report.”
Kelly continued, “There are laws in this country. Laws. I don’t give a damn if a woman shows up in a bikini to the office, that doesn’t invite or make it OK for her superior to harass her. It makes it OK for her boss to say, ‘Go home and change.’ That’s it. The truth is, sexual harassment has nothing to do with wardrobe. It has to do with power and control and sexual proclivities that a superior chooses not to reign in. How insulting, by the way, to man as well. Like they are a bunch of animals who can’t behave themselves if a woman shows part of their thigh. Right? This attitude of blaming women for their own harassment is actually one of the reasons why women choose not to come forward after they get harassed because they fear victim shaming. They fear it. They know it’s going to happen. How about we not pile it on, Donna. How about we use this moment to encourage women to find their own voices despite the risks and to stand up for themselves, which is hard enough, without rich, powerful, well-connected fashion moguls lecturing them on their clothing choices. And speaking of fashion choices, here’s one for you. I’m done with Donna Karan.”
Having heard Karan’s apology, Kelly said, “I want her to come on and we can have an honest discussion of how she really feels.” Kelly said she’d like to talk about whether Karan’s comments were taken out of context “because the messaging to women is all wrong.”
Rose McGowan, one of the actresses who settled with Weinstein, tweeted about Karan’s initial remarks: “Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress.”