Back when then-incoming First Lady Melania Trump wore a Dolce & Gabbana dress to a New Year's party, Stefano Gabbana did as many designers have before him and celebrated that a well-known public figure had donned one of his creations. He did so on his personal Instagram, rather than on his brand's official account — and he received quite a bit of feedback from his hundreds of thousands of followers. It didn't seem to faze him, though, because when the White House released its official portrait of Trump, wearing a black Dole & Gabbana jacket, Gabbana once again posted about it.
Within hours, his comments section was, as expected, blowing up. Overall, though, the response to Gabbana's Instagram was more often positive — and defensive of the designer and his talents — than not. Some acknowledged that while they don't agree with Trump or her and her family's politics, they could recognise what this represents in terms of Dolce & Gabbana's success. Many characterised the First Lady as the brand's typical woman, beautiful and elegant (regardless of their stance on certain issues), and that its designers shouldn't have to distance themselves from her because of her role. More pointedly, though, some Dolce & Gabbana fans jumped ahead of the criticism by telling him that seeing Trump in one of his jackets was emblematic of his fashion house's work: to create marvellous clothes. Focusing on politics, they said, was besides the point.
When the skeptical or thumbs-down emojis did crop up, or when some followers expressed disappointment in Gabbana for aligning himself with FLOTUS, his supporters would come to his defence. (Or, they'd comment encouraging him to dismiss any criticism.) Still, the threats to boycott and unfollow emerged, especially for what some considered a flawed logic in his support of Mrs. Trump — that she is the wife of a political figure rather than one herself, and that her husband's administration has threatened LGBT rights in the U.S.
We know Gabbana to be outspoken (and rarely filter himself) on social media. He went ahead and directly replied to his critics, without mincing words. The sentiment was clear.
The fashion industry has taken an unusually quiet approach to the First Family, foregoing the typical press blasts with credits whenever someone is spotted wearing a specific brand. On his personal account, though, Gabbana hasn't only confirmed whether Trump has worn one of his garments — he has also thanked her for it. On his label's official feed, FLOTUS has yet to be featured. We reached out to Dolce & Gabbana, and the brand had no comment for this story.
A big argument that has emerged from the comments section of Gabbana's post is that the First Lady wearing a certain designer's clothing has nothing to do with politics. However, as we saw during the election and its aftermath (and many brought up once again in response to criticism on his feed), the relationship between fashion and politics has never been more palpable: Brands have made their ideological inclinations clear on the runway and in their collections, pledged to not dress the First Family, and even dedicated resources to benefit programmes and non-profits that could be affected by the current administration's policies. Plus, if there's one big takeaway from Michelle Obama's legacy (and many before her) it's that the First Lady can say a lot with her clothing — and that's as true for Mrs. Trump as it was for her predecessors.