Donna Karan has landed herself in some particularly hot water: On Sunday, The Daily Mail published a report from the CinéFashion Film Awards in which the American designer came to Harvey Weinstein's defense in a red carpet interview. When asked by the publication to weigh in on the fired film mogul's sexual harassment allegations, Karan stated Weinstein's victims could be "asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality."
The designer told a The Daily Mail reporter:
I think we have to look at ourselves. 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, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? 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?
Upon publishing, Karan's comments immediately generated a furious backlash on social media; it didn't take long for a tweet from actress Rose McGowan — who filed charges against Weinstein over an alleged "episode in a hotel room" in 1997 — that called the designer "scum in a fancy dress" to go viral. "Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE," wrote McGowan. "Aiding and abetting is a moral crime."
In response to The Daily Mail's report, Karan soon after issued a statement late on Monday that claimed her comments were "taken out of context and do not represent how [she feels] about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein."
The statement reads:
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.
My 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.
I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim.
Karan's comments are especially surprising when considering that, three decades ago, she built her clothing lines — both her namesake label and DKNY — around the very concept of female empowerment.
"Don't be afraid. Go into a dressing room and work with people who really have an understanding of clothes. It's really about understanding your body and looking in the mirror and saying, 'Hey, is this how I want to feel today? Do I feel strong?' Sometimes, clothes you respond to aren't necessarily for you," she told Today in 2015. "You usually know which clothes will empower you. Have the confidence that you need to be a woman."