President-Elect Donald Trump is, well, a controversial figure right now—to say the least. After a campaign fueled by divisive rhetoric, the business mogul and his family are facing a sizable backlash, with many people putting their money where their mouth is and boycotting both his businesses and the fashion empire built by eldest daughter Ivanka Trump. The latest member of the Trump family to receive a cold shoulder from the fashion industry is future First Lady Melania Trump.
During the campaign, Melania has been largely silent—in contrast to the insanely vocal role Michelle Obama has played in the current administration, so far we haven’t seen the former model do much more than wear pretty dresses and statement-making jumpsuits. But if the recent statement by designer Sophie Theallet—who is responsible for some of Michelle Obama’s best looks—is any indication, even that might be difficult to do. This week, Theallet released a statement saying that she will not dress the future First Lady. And she’s calling on other designers to do the same.
“As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady. The rhetoric of racism, sexism and xenophobia unleashed by her husband’s presidential campaign are incompatible with the shared values we live by,” she wrote in her statement via email. “I encourage my fellow designers to do the same.”
Her stand poses an important quandary to the American design community. Up until now, no one has really been dressing the future First Lady—for the most part, she’s been sticking to European labels and the occasional off-the-rack Ralph Lauren on the campaign trail. Considering the sizable influence Michelle Obama had on the fashion industry here at home—including her role in helping to catapult designers like Christian Siriano, Jason Wu, Thakoon, and Prabal Gurung to superstardom—a refusal from the fashion world to associate with a First Lady of the United States would mean not only a break from recent tradition, but also an end to so many of those White House fashion moments we’ve come to love.