Donna Karan defends Harvey Weinstein, then apologises

Fashion designer Donna Karan
Fashion designer Donna KaranPHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Critics called for a boycott of American fashion designer Donna Karan's products on Tuesday (Oct 10), after she defended Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul fired from the studio he co-founded amid allegations of sexual harassment.

On Sunday, Karan had suggested women had been seeking a reaction from Weinstein by dressing provocatively. After a barrage of criticism, she apologised, but the condemnation kept pouring in.

"I think he's being looked at right now as a symbol, not necessarily as him. I know his wife, I think they're wonderful people. Harvey has done some amazing things," the founder of DKNY said about Weinstein on the red carpet for the CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles.

"It's not Harvey Weinstein. You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing, what they're asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble."

The comments triggered outrage, including from actress Rose McGowan, whom The New York Times said had reached a settlement with Weinstein in 1997 after the producer had behaved inappropriately toward her.

"Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE," McGowan, 44, tweeted on Monday.

"Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress."

Karan later apologised, saying her red carpet statements were taken out of context and "not representative of how I feel or what I believe."

"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," she wrote.

"I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim."

Despite her apology, critics were still expressing outrage online on Tuesday towards the 69-year-old New York designer, some calling for boycotting her products.

"No more Donna Karan for me," wrote actress Mia Farrow.

The designer is no longer involved in managing the brands Donna Karan and DKNY, which she sold in 2001 to luxury group LVMH who in turn sold it last year to G-III Apparel Group.

Karan relinquished all roles she had within these groups in 2015 to focus on her luxury lifestyle brand Urban Zen.