Update: In her first interview since her controversial comments about Harvey Weinstein, and the allegations that he's sexually harassed and assaulted dozens of women over a span of decades, Donna Karan says she deeply regrets defending the film producer and studio executive during a red carpet interview in Los Angeles — specifically, what she said about how women present themselves, and whether they are “asking for it.” During a phone call with WWD’s Bridget Foley, the designer said, “I said, ‘I said that?’ That was the first thing out of my mouth. ‘What? I didn’t say that. That’s ridiculous.’” Karan maintains that she was tired and spoke out of turn without being fully informed of the severity of the situation.
“It was not what I meant," she explained. "I [so regret] that that came out of my mouth because, as I was avoiding Harvey, and what [a] blur…I am really, really apologetic. I have been dressing women for 40 years and I show their sensuality, I have done it in my advertising campaign, I have shown it as a mother, as a grandmother, as a woman, [I’ve shown] her legs and her hosiery and her bras and her fragrance. And I have always had men and women together.”
She added: “For any woman who has been attacked in any way possible. I think these women have been incredibly courageous to be dealing with this. These are iconic women. These are women we all love. These are women that are inspirational to us, certainly to me as a woman. I want to tell them how sorry I am that they have been subjected to this vile behavior. And I will support them on their long road ahead. This is not going to be easy for any one of them.”
This article was originally published on October 10, 2017.
On Sunday, Donna Karan attended the 4th Annual CinéFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles, where she was honored with the Designer Icon Award for “her outstanding work as one of the most influential fashion designers in the world as a versatile innovator and pioneer designer in women’s wear and American fashion.”
During a red carpet interview, Karan took the opportunity to defend movie mogul Harvey Weinstein against allegations he sexually-harassed dozens of women over a span of decades. “I think we have to look at ourselves," she said. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it's been a hard time for women. To see it here in our own country is very difficult.”
Though Weinstein was fired from his company earlier that day, Karan continued her defense: “How do we present ourselves as women?" she said. "What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?”
While most of the fashion and entertainment industry has condemned Weinstein and his alleged abuse, including Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, and Jessica Chastain, Karan doubled down on her claims, saying “I know his wife, I think they're wonderful people, Harvey has done some amazing things. I think we have to look at our world and what we want to say and how we want to say it as well.”
On Monday, just before midnight — and hours after her statements were met with outrage and derision on the internet — Karan’s public relations team issued the following apology: "Last night, I was honored at the Cinemoi Fashion Film Awards in Hollywood and while answering a question on the red carpet I made a statement that unfortunately is not representative of how I feel or what I believe. I have spent my life championing women. My life has been dedicated to dressing and addressing the needs of women, empowering them and promoting equal rights.”
The designer claims her “statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein. I believe that sexual harassment is NOT acceptable and this is an issue that MUST be addressed once and for all regardless of the individual.” Before signing off, she concluded, “I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.”