Why dressing Melania Trump has been controversial

Katarina Kovac, Staff Reporter

Just as Hollywood actresses have to make the rounds for awards season, being First Lady of the United States means having to be appropriately dressed for numerous dinners, charity engagements and political trips.

Although First Lady Melania Trump has been seen in a series of designer looks from Ralph Lauren to Michael Kors during her first months in the role, unlike a A-list actresses, President Donald Trump is reportedly footing the bill as multiple designers have refused to dress the first lady.

With a number of designers like Tom Ford, Zac Posen, Sophie Theallet and Marc Jacobs publicly acknowledging post-election that they won’t be dressing the current First Lady, other designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Thom Browne, and Diane Von Furstenburg have been more supportive as they believe that they owe Melania Trumo the respect that she deserves and the symbolism of the First Lady should be accounted for.

In a public statement supporting Melania Trump, Tommy Hilfiger stated, I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her… I don’t think people should become political about it. Everyone was very happy to dress Michelle [Obama] as well. I think they look great in the clothes.”

Diane Von Furstenberg has publicly expressed post-election that Donald Trump was elected as president, and therefore, the First Lady deserves the respect of any First Lady before her. Furstenbuerg has also explained that her role as a designer in the fashion industry is to promote inclusiveness, and within that role designers need to lead by example in willingly dressing Melania Trump.

Marcus Wainwright, head designer of Rag & Bone, also spoke out about being willing to dress the First Lady. Wainwright explained that it would be hypocritical to say no to dressing Melania Trump because the brand is about inclusivity and building a better future for American manufacturing. This mentality ultimately led the company to putting the First Lady ahead of personal political beliefs.

Marc Jacobs certainly didn’t hide his feelings about dressing the First Lady when publicly stating, “I have no interest whatsoever in dressing Melania Trump. Personally, I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by Trump and his supporters.”

Melania Trump’s position doesn’t come with a clothing allowance, and no, taxpayers don’t pay for the items in her closet either. The Trumps are expected to pay for clothing out of pocket, which looks like the First Lady’s future for the time being.

As designers have voiced their reluctance to dress the new First Lady, many fashion industry professionals have spoken out and said that designers should keep their personal opinions out of the political realm and not pass judgment on people, such as Melania Trump.

Is checking a public figure’s ethical or political beliefs before dressing them setting up a dynamic that feeds the exact mentality that prevents our nation from moving toward inclusivity and acceptance? Should personal feelings and satisfaction be put aside out of respect for the symbolism of the first lady?  Or is refusal to dress Melania Trump a form of patriotism in and of itself?

As the political and fashion worlds have begun to collide and designers have brought the two industries into the same realm, these are questions that must be considered.