Donna Karan Defends Harvey Weinstein, Directs Blame at Women's "Sexuality": "Are We Asking for It?"
"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?" said Karan during a red carpet interview on Sunday.
While scores of Hollywood actors are speaking out about the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment brought forth against Harvey Weinstein in last Thursday's New York Times article, fashion designer Donna Karan does not necessarily think that the producer, who was ousted from The Weinstein Co. on Sunday, is all to blame.
During a red carpet interview at the CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, Karan, 69, told a reporter for The Daily Mail that Weinstein and his wife, fashion designer and Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, are "wonderful people" and that the producer has done "some amazing things."
"It's not Harvey Weinstein, you look at everything all over the world today and what [women] are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do," said Karan, clad in a black halter dress with a low-V neckline. "I think [Weinstein] is being looked at right now as a symbol and not necessarily as him."
She continued, "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."
Karan sparked confusion when she seemingly made the Weinstein accusations more about the accusers themselves. "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?"
Weinstein was fired from his own company on Sunday after the Times article was followed up by more reports of sexual harassment by the film executive. Actresses and TV reporters have detailed meetings where he showed up in a bathrobe and similar questionable behavior throughout the years.
On the red carpet on Sunday, Karan explained that she sees the issue as bigger than just Weinstein, whom she suggested was being used as a "symbol." "I don't think it's only Harvey Weinstein. I don't think we're only looking at him. I think we're looking at a world much deeper than that."
Karan founded Donna Karan International, which included Donna Karan Atelier and DKNY, in 1985. However, she stepped down in 2015 to focus her energy on her Urban Zen nonprofit organization, which celebrates Haitian artisans. At her peak, Donna Karan dressed a slew of A-list actresses for the red carpet, including Barbra Streisand, Viola Davis, Jane Fonda, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Aniston. Some of her most notable looks were barely there sheer numbers, including a red gown with a see-through skirt over briefs worn by Jennifer Lopez at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, as well as a black ensemble worn by Rita Ora to the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar party with sheer panels down the length of her body.
"Nothing is more glamorous than the contour of a woman's body," Karan told THR in 2014. "Every design detail is custom to the woman — the color, the fabric, the fit, the drape."