For all President Donald Trump’s frustration with so-called fake news, he’s far from the only person who has to deal with it, and, in fact, often finds himself on the other end of it. Just ask Tom Ford. On a day that should have been a celebratory one for the designer (as was widely expected, he was confirmed as the new chairperson of the Council of Fashion Designers of America), a fake quote attributed to Ford calling First Lady Melania Trump a “glorified escort” went viral on Twitter, interestingly among both supporters and opponents of the president.
“I have no interest in dressing a glorified escort who steals speeches and has bad taste in men,” read the exact quote that was uploaded last night, according to the Fashion Law, and which ricocheted through the Internet to the point that it was photoshopped into a fake Daily Mail headline. The quote was supposedly Ford explaining why he had no interest in dressing Melania Trump.
As it turns out, Ford never uttered those words, as he’s stated in both an interview with WWD and an official statement through his brand.
“Never! Never, ever, ever, have I said that Melania was an escort,” he told WWD.
However, like a lot of fake news, the story had some tiny basis in truth before it was twisted into something far more controversial. Indeed, back in December 2016, Ford went on The View to promote his movie Nocturnal Animals, and in the wake of several fashion designers saying they wouldn’t dress the soon-to-be first lady, Ford was asked his opinion on the matter.
“I was asked to dress her quite a few years ago and I declined; she’s not necessarily my image,” he told the cohosts. His feelings weren’t necessarily specific to Mrs. Trump, though; he noted that he thinks America’s first family should wear clothes made in America (Ford’s line is manufactured in Italy, where he had previously been the creative director of Gucci).
“Even had Hillary won, she shouldn’t be wearing my clothes. They’re too expensive,” Ford continued. “They’re not artificially expensive; it’s how much it costs to make these things. I think the first lady has to relate to anybody.”
He concluded that it was ultimately up to Trump as to how she would dress (indeed, in contrast with decades of tradition when it comes to the first lady’s wardrobe, Trump has shown a notable preference for European designers).
President Trump, of course, got wind of the matter himself and addressed the situation in one of his final pre-inauguration interviews with Fox News in January 2017.
“Never asked Tom Ford. Doesn’t like Tom Ford. Doesn’t like his designs,” he said. “Tom Ford is an example. ‘I will not dress the first lady.’ He was never asked to dress her.”
“I’m not a fan of Tom Ford,” he continued. “Never have been.”
Steve Wynn, the casino mogul and a passionate Trump supporter, also reportedly pulled Ford’s merchandise from all stores in his Las Vegas properties after the mini-feud.
The fact that Melania Trump seems to prefer obtaining her wardrobe directly through traditional retail stores via a personal stylist, and bucks an “America First” tradition when it comes to her clothes, makes whatever controversy this amounted to at the time a moot point.
Yet on the day of Ford’s CFDA ascendance, the old minor media flare-up roared back with this fake quote. For the record, the first use of the fake quote we could find on the Internet was on an anonymous and seemingly little-read Blogspot account that concerned itself with celebrity and fashion gossip and the prodigious overuse of exclamation points—which is to say, not a particularly reliable source. Despite some theories on social media that The Daily Mail had originally included the quote as one reportedly caught off-camera and then edited it out some time later, the Mail writer has also confirmed on Twitter that that was not the case.
While the entire regrettable episode led some to say they’ll boycott Ford’s wares, Ford did at least get one new notable fan out of it.