Why This Fashion Designer Dressed as Harvey Weinstein for Halloween
"I know that it's a hard thing to have a sense of humor about, especially if you've had that experience. It's not something you will ever laugh about. My way of dealing with things sometimes is to open that dialogue and hash it out."
"What's scarier than Harvey Weinstein?"
That's the question Kelly Cole asked himself while brainstorming ideas for a Halloween costume this year.
The bold-faced L.A. name — Cole, 47, is an entertainment-industry veteran whose résumé includes acting, design, fashion design, events and high-profile deejay gigs — failed to find a more horrifying answer than the disgraced movie mogul who now stands accused of sexual misconduct and rape by more than 70 women.
So dress up like Harvey Weinstein is what he did ... sort of.
Cole combined a bright and borrowed pink pig costume, a white robe (from W Las Vegas) that he won in a charity poker tournament during the Sundance Film Festival and a laminated prop featuring the Weinstein Co. logo and the word "CONTRACT" in bold, all-caps lettering. (Many of Weinstein's accusers say that he worked with a team of lawyers to bully women into signing confidentiality agreements following encounters with him.)
Though he describes himself as a provocateur, even Cole opted to run the idea by several friends before braving the night and stepping out for parties. "I like to be slightly provocative, but I was concerned," Cole says in a telephone interview with Pret-a-Reporter. "I have two friends who were victims, so I was concerned they would have an issue. One of them commented positively."
He continues: "You know what? I'm not glorifying him. I'm showing him for what he was and is. I didn't want to minimize people's experiences with him or the weight of what he did. In fact, I wanted to lampoon how ridiculous it was that he got away with it for so long."
Before living in Los Angeles, where Cole partnered with Sean Hornbeak on the unisex clothing brand Kelly Cole (which maintains a shop on La Brea Avenue), he made a name for himself in New York City in the art and club scene of the late '80s and '90s. He served as co-creator/operator of the iconic SPY Lounge and rock 'n' roll bistro Black & White. He said he knew of Weinstein's troubling behavior back then.
"In party life in New York, it was a known thing," Cole says. "People knew not to make plans with him. There were rumors that he was aggressive. But there were others, too, and there's going to be information coming out about them."
As for intel on his costume, Cole says that some of his friends "were on the fence" about it, but after receiving a "genius" compliment from a handful of people, he decided to go with it. He wore it to Studio City's Sportsmen's Lodge for the Maroon 5 Halloween party on Oct. 29.
He ran into friend Courtney Love, who "thought it was brilliant," Cole says. Love made headlines when TMZ uncovered a red-carpet interview from 2005 in which the rocker-actress said bluntly, "If Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don't go."
Cole says most guests at the party responded positively to his look. "I got a couple of winces, but, no, there weren't any overtly negative reactions. I have a lot of compassion for women who have dealt with this."
Cole even offered up the information that he had an ex-employee who made "erroneous" claims against him at one point in his career. "I'm no angel, but I've never behaved in this way. I'm fascinated by the pathology — this is a sickness."
On Instagram, Cole shared a photo of his costume with his 7,555 followers along with this caption: "Pig in a bathrobe. Too far?" His followers didn't think so. He received 150 likes and unanimously positive comments, including "Won Halloween," "Nailed it" and "#accurate."
"I didn't set out to offend anyone or open any wounds," explains Cole, who has DJed weddings for such A-listers as Johnny Depp, Kate Beckinsale and, most recently, Guy Oseary, who renewed his vows in Brazil. "I know that it's a hard thing to have a sense of humor about, especially if you've had that experience. It's not something you will ever laugh about. My way of dealing with things sometimes is to open that dialogue and hash it out."
Addressing Weinstein's alleged misconduct (his rep has continually denied claims of forced sex and other encounters detailed in The New York Times and The New Yorker, both of which published explosive investigations into his alleged behavior) from a comedic standpoint has been a minefield. While Saturday Night Live was largely criticized on social media for not addressing the situation sooner, others like James Corden faced backlash for making light of it.
Cole wasn't alone in shining his own light on the situation through his costume choice. "Page Six" reported on Tuesday that a CEO dressed up like Weinstein, without naming him. A Telegraph story titled "8 sexist and inappropriate Halloween costumes to avoid in 2017" listed Weinstein as No. 1.
Pret-a-Reporter searched Instagram and found that not everyone read that story — below are other examples of Weinstein-inspired costumes, including one featuring a woman dressed as Game of Thrones' bloodthirsty Arya Stark holding a Weinstein mask meant to evoke her decapitation of Walder Frey.