Caitlin McBride: 'Why is Harvey Weinstein's wife - and her Marchesa fashion line - still being punished for his crimes?'
“There was a part of me that was terribly naive - clearly, so naive. I have moments of rage. I have moments of confusion. I have moments of disbelief! And I have moments when I just cry for my children. What are their lives going to be? What are people going to say to them?”
These are the words of Georgina Chapman, the estranged wife of Harvey Weinstein - who has given exactly one interview since her husband’s unveiling as a monster who unleashed a reign of terror across Hollywood for decades.
Chapman said she couldn’t “keep food down” for days after the allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, assault and rape (allegations which he denies) spanning two decades, were made against her husband of 10 years, began last year.
Since the Weinstein scandal broke, Chapman has been a begrudging casualty of her husband’s heinous behaviour. When it became clear “that this wasn’t an isolated incident” and increasingly serious allegations of sexual misconduct began pouring in, she took her children from their Los Angeles home and got out. She is now living quietly in upstate New York and is thinking of her next move.
She founded high-end brand Marchesa in 2004 and from its launch, it was a near-immediate success story, which, on the surface, should have absolutely nothing to do with Weinstein.
But there are a number of reports that at least some of its triumph was at her now-disgraced husband’s behest. It was reported that Weinstein forced actresses to wear his wife’s works on the red carpet, the implication that if they didn’t, they would fall out of favour. Some said no, but most said yes.
Year after year, Georgina was pictured at the Met Gala, posing alongside Katie Holmes, Chrissy Teigen, Karolina Kurkova, or with Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez at a post-Oscars party. She was as in with the in crowd as it got. Life was, for both Chapman and Marchesa, very, very good.
Would Marchesa have been a red carpet essential if not for Weinstein? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean that in the 14 years following its debut that the hard work it takes to sustain a brand should be forgotten and tossed aside.
It can be argued - and fairly - that she benefited from her husband’s brutish behaviour and prospered from the axe of bullying he wielded so relentlessly in Hollywood. But it can also be argued that Georgina is just one of a line of women throughout history that are being punished for the sins of their husband, one of the many women painted as somehow complicit in their partner’s bad behaviour simply by association.
Two powerful supporters have come forward in recent months, in the form of Scarlett Johansson and Priyanka Chopra, both of whom are spearheading the Marchesa comeback.
When I saw Chopra chose a white strapless ostrich feathered gown by the brand for her bridal party bash on Sunday night, it was clear she was making a statement. This is only Marchesa’s second high profile appearance in the last year and she was lambasted by some critics, who still felt it was too soon to support Chapman as the wounds post-#MeToo have far from healed.
“Georgina’s a friend of mine, and she has been. And it’s not her fault. And I don’t think it’s right to take it out on a self-made woman what somebody in her life did,” the Quantico star told Women’s Wear Daily.
“That’s the wrong attitude. I’ve known her for years, and that was a beautiful gown, and deserved to be worn by a bride-to-be. And it made me feel like a princess. It was the right choice.”
Similarly, Johansson was vilified by some for wearing Marchesa to the Met Gala in May, to which she responded: "I wore Marchesa because their clothes make women feel confident and beautiful and it is my pleasure to support a brand created by two incredibly talented and important female designers.”
From the outside, it would appear that Chapman has an extension of ‘rich woman problems’ - her lucrative fashion business isn’t exactly booming and she was given $20 million in her divorce, set to make more among the division of the former couple’s assets. Cry me a river!
But she isn't accused of any wrongdoing and there's no suggestion whatsoever that she had even an inkling about the violent allegations made against her husband over the years.
When it wants to be, fashion is more often than not, an exceptionally forgiving place. Just look at John Galliano, who, after a four year hiatus, was welcomed back into the world of couture after proclaiming “I love Hitler” in 2011. He was found guilty of racist and anti-semitic abuse in Paris in September of that year, having months earlier verbally abused a French couple having a beer outside La Perle bar in Paris's Marais district said he repeatedly insulted them with lines including "fucking ugly Jewish bitch" and "fucking Asian bastard".
He said he couldn’t remember the conversation because of his addiction to alcohol, valium and sleeping tablets. This was something he was personally responsible for and was convicted of and now, it’s like it never happened.
In 2015, designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana acme under fire for calling children born through IVF as "synthetic" and IVF pregnancies are "chemical offsprings and rented uterus." After a few weeks of controversy and a half-assed apology, it was back to business as usual and these days, they are putting their efforts into supporting the Trumps at all costs.
Fashion designers are supposed to be unpredictable, fiery, creative. They just can't be an innocent woman.
And what of Georgina’s beleaguered business partner Keren Craig? She has remained largely quiet amid the scandal, but said in an interview earlier this year that Marchesa wasn’t going anywhere and that she had no inkling of Weinstein’s predatory behaviour, saying she had a “social relationship” with him.
“She doesn't see herself as a victim. That's very important,” Craig told Grazia in February.” She's just trying to get on with her life. You've got to realise George is such a strong woman. Don't get me wrong, it's a very hard time, but she's quite inspirational. I feel immense sadness for the victims, for the women who have spoken out so bravely. I'm very glad he's getting some help.”
Prosecutors are still building a case against Weinstein, but even the New York Times is confident that a case will make it far enough to be presented before a judge or jury because of mishandling of evidence and errors made along the way.
What a miscarriage of justice it would be if he walked away scot-free and his wife was the one treated like a criminal.