by KEISHEL A. WILLIAMS
Georgina Chapman’s fall from fashion grace represents the type of victimization women suffer at the hands of their own peers during a time when support is needed the most. In the excitement of bringing down the powerful men who have spent years committing heinous acts against women, the public seemed to have forgotten the most important people in this equation – the victims. The #metoo sweep was so swift and so grand, many lives were caught in the crossfire and there was little to no outreach to assist them during such a devastating time.
Chapman being the high-profile wife – at the time – of Harvey Weinstein, the man who set the stage for the #metoo movement, was also one of his victims. As a wife, mother, and businesswoman, Chapman found her life dismantled overnight when her Hollywood husband was taken down. Although Chapman herself refused to be called a victim, that self-deprecating act is common amongst victims trying to get a handle on the horrible situation they have been thrust into. That’s understandable. No one wants to be a victim.
She was personally ostracized and her brand Marchesa was blackballed by the very women who should have been rallying around her and her children when their world was falling apart at the hands of her husband. The persecution of women for the crimes of men has been a running theme for decades. We see it moreso in instances of sexual assault and harassment whereby the victim’s motives and or innocence is up for trial before focusing on the perpetrator. The idea of Chapman being a victim has escaped the minds of many because of a few things, if we’re being honest: she’s white, she’s rich and she’s successful in her own right. This lack of remorse because of her background perpetuates the narrative that if someone is not visibly broken down they cannot be a victim.
The mental and emotional attack on women is often overlooked as a problem many women have to deal with regardless of status. This is a woman who has had to comfort her children, giving unimaginable explanations about their father’s behavior while the media condemns them as a unit. This is a woman who still has to face her family, friends, and associates as she comes to terms with the trail of women whose lives were ruined by her husband over the years while he was married to her, regardless of how much of an “open secret” her husband’s escapades were. This is a woman who still has to keep a business afloat in the midst of the unrelenting blowback directed at her when the focus should be on her husband. It is a shame as a society we prioritize one woman’s victimization over another when in fact both are victims, both were hurt. In a mad thirst for blood, Chapman was twice victimized – once by her husband, and then by the industry. Her prompt divorce and peaceful retreat into the darkness was seemingly not enough for the public. They had to bring down her brand too.
Anna Wintour’s June editor’s letter published last week on the Vogue website is the punctuation to the very public statement the powerful fashion maverick is making in the industry – leave Georgina alone! According to Wintour, upon her visit to Chapman after the news of her husband’s crimes broke the designer was “Trying to process the emotions — anger, guilt, revulsion, fear — as well as grappling with the terrible wider human cost in all of this.” Wintour aims to get people to understand the woman behind the label, behind the man of whose association has now tainted her. Perhaps not without coincidence, actress Scarlett Johannson chose to wear the Marchesa brand at the recent MET Gala. The first celebrity to don the brand since its unfortunate fall. The actress gave a robust explanation to The Cut after the event, stating why she chose to wear the blackballed brand: “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,” she said.
It is believed that Wintour was the mastermind behind this Marchesa revival on the red carpet. Regardless, Wintour’s orchestration of Chapman’s (Marchesa’s) comeback at the MET Gala was a good thing. The behemoth editor’s motives are always calculated and part of a larger picture to be revealed at a later date. Chapman deserves to move on with her life. Unless she was assaulting women alongside her husband like a perverted tag team, let the woman live.