Among fashion designers, a debate is raging about the merits of dressing Melania Trump and whether doing so is a complicit endorsement of her husband Donald J. Trump's racist and misogynistic rhetoric. Some designers, like Tommy Hilfiger, have admitted they'd be happy to dress the future first lady, others have said they wouldn't do so under any circumstances. "I’d rather put my energy into helping out those who will be hurt by [Donald] Trump and his supporters,” Jacobs told WWD.
The latest designer to join the pro-Mrs. Trump camp is Stefano Gabbana of the Italian label Dolce & Gabbana. Trump donned a black cocktail dress for a New Year's Eve party at her husband's Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, an event that was itself controversial because organizers sold tickets for $500 a pop, suggesting access to the President-elect could be bought for a small sum. In turn, Trump's D&G dress cost $2,995.
The event is hardly the first time Melania Trump has worn Dolce & Gabbana over the past several months, but it is the first time that such an occasion drew comment from one of Dolce & Gabbana's designers. And far from being horrified to see his clothes associated with a Trump presidency, Stefano Gabbana was actually quite pleased. The line's co-designer posted a photo of Trump in the dress on Instagram, thanking her for donning D&G.
Even calling Trump a "#DGwoman," Gabbana wrote, "Melania Trump #DGwoman ❤❤❤❤❤ thank you 🇺🇸 #madeinitaly🇮🇹."
The post immediately launched a firestorm around Gabbana, who in turn got defensive. As reported by The Telegraph, Gabbana began replying to objecting commenters, telling them, "please you dont buy anymore my fashion please!!! I dont need a ignorant costumer!!!" Gabbana misspelled, while also arguing that it was "just 1 dress" and therefore not a definitive political stand.
It's unclear if Gabbana did specifically dress Trump for the occasion or if Trump obtained the gown off-the-rack without his prior knowledge.
Even so, Gabbana's eagerness to see Trump wearing his brand puts him at the far side of one of the fashion industry's biggest divides.
While Sophie Theallet, a designer who has frequently dressed Michelle Obama, has been vocal about the need for designers to disavow dressing Trump, and other designers like Tom Ford, Derek Lam, and Phillip Lim are all also committing to bypassing the opportunity, not everyone shares either their political alignments or their belief in the political power of fashion.
For his part, Hilfiger argued that people shouldn't "become political about it," while Calvin Klein, Thom Browne and Diane von Furstenberg are some of the designers who have voiced their willingness to outfit Trump.
The official Dolce & Gabbana brand accounts have, meanwhile, not posted anything about Trump's look or Gabbana's comments. It should be noted this is not the first time Gabbana has come under fire for comments of a political nature. In 2015, he was roundly criticized for suggesting that children conceived through alternative means like in vitro fertilisation are "children of chemistry, synthetic babies." After singer Elton John led a call to boycot D&G, Gabbana apologized.