Stop giving the man more power.
It was just last year that prominent Harvey Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan tweeted scathingly at actresses such as Meryl Streep who had previously worked with the producer, blasting them for their alleged silence.
She said at the time, ‘YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You’ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.’
While she later took the remark down, it was monumental in tying Weinstein’ history of abuse to his ex-wife Georgina Chapman’s brand for many in the public eye. Wearing Marchesa to an event became tacitly associated with Weinstein, tainting the brand’s image as it quickly nosedived. Marchesa later lost out on a lucrative jewellery collaboration and quietly cancelled their New York Fashion Week show to release their collection digitally instead.
As the #MeToo reckoning and Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment allegations raged on, Georgina Chapman was one of the first to condemn her former husband’s behaviour in the wake of the New York Times investigation.
She said in a statement, ‘My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions. I have chosen to leave my husband.’
The damage was done however. Marchesa faded away from the red carpets and celebrity stylists’ racks that year. Her social media was flooded with comments from people screaming at her that she had been complicit in her husband’s actions.
Weinstein’s long shadow has always hung over Marchesa. The producer, who has been accused of multiple counts of sexual assault and intimidation, was instrumental in securing funding for the brand and garnering publicity for it. He once admitted that he had played a part in getting Renee Zellweger to wear Marchesa in 2004 – the first star to do so and raising the brand’s profile in the public eye. Other actresses such as Sienna Miller and Felicity Huffman took a stronger stance, saying that they had been pressured into wearing Marchesa by Weinstein otherwise risking throwing their careers into jeopardy.
However, Georgina Chapman is not responsible for the actions of her ex-husband. As it emerges that Weinstein is a man who allegedly spent a great deal of time taking power away from other women and abusing his influence, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if he did this without his wife’s consent.
Shackling Georgina Chapman and her business to her husband is utterly anti-feminist, in my opinion. If we define her and Marchesa by her ex-husband, we erase her and her work from the picture. We make her, her female co-founder Keren Craig and everyone else at Marchesa pay for his actions. She is not Harvey Weinstein. She should not pay for his sins. Marchesa should not be seen as Harvey Weinstein’s brand.
Finding the mogul’s fingers in the seam and taffeta of her dresses allows the man to have power over yet another woman, another actress who wears her dresses – especially when Marchesa finally has a chance to step out of his toxic gravitational pull.
Scarlett Johansson stepped out at the Met Gala on Monday night in a gown by the brand, a deep red and pink ombre dress detailed with florals. She was the first major star to do so since the allegations. Unsurprisingly, the fury flooded in as people criticised her for wearing a dress even tangentially connected to Weinstein – despite the fact that the brand has severed ties and expressed a desire to support the #MeToo movement, according to a Refinery29 interview with Keren Craig.
Scarlett, who has previously worked with Weinstein on Vicky Cristina Barcelona, said, ‘I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful, and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers.’
And whether Scarlett was just trying to avoid talking about Weinstein as a tactical PR move, the most important thing to note in her response is that she removes Weinstein from the equation. She returns the focus to the ‘two incredibly talented and important female designers’, who have worked tirelessly to build a fashion brand over more than a decade and are now tasked with the monumental mission of shaking off a monster’s shadow.
So, wear Marchesa. Support a woman whose livelihood is being punished for the actions of an abuser and trying to rebuild her life, in spite of naysayers rubberbanding her every move to her ex-husband.
And if you’re going to criticise the brand, criticise it for the strength of its work. The Met Gala was a real chance to make a comeback statement and they went for a very safe dress, which wouldn’t look out of place at prom. We’re rooting for you Marchesa, step your game up.