Georgina Chapman, co-founder of Marchesa, is not to blame for Harvey Weinstein’s actions, argues Stylist’s Alix Walker.
Harvey Weinstein is a pig. A grotesque, repugnant pig. And now, some seven months after he was first outed as such, his estranged wife and co-founder of the fashion brand Marchesa, Georgina Chapman, has been interviewed by Vogue.
Alongside the interview, Anna Wintour has dedicated her editor’s letter to Chapman’s bravery, saying: “I am firmly convinced that Georgina had no idea about her husband’s behaviour.
“Blaming her for any of it, as too many have in our gladiatorial digital age, is wrong. I believe that one should not hold a person responsible for the actions of his or her partner.”
The Vogue interview coincides with the first red carpet appearance of a Marchesa gown since the scandal broke. Scarlett Johansson wore a burgundy ombré dress to the annual Met Gala this week, issuing her own statement regarding her choice to support Chapman’s label.
“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.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that Johansson’s decision to wear Marchesa is a coincidence: Wintour hosts the high-profile fashion event and is known to ‘suggest’ what guests might want to wear. As such, it seems this is all a a carefully choreographed comeback for Chapman’s brand.
And so the backlash began. Firstly, Scarlett Johansson was accused of ‘betraying’ the Time’s Up campaign, solely because she dared to put on a dress. According to keyboard warriors and tabloids, this maverick move is proof that the actress has turned her back on all the women who shared their #MeToo stories. That she 100% backs the monster who allegedly abused, raped and violated so many women.
Next, the tide of bullying rolled on to Chapman. Of course she must have known Weinstein was a sexual predator. She was keeping quiet because of all of his money. She knew that he bullied actresses into wearing her clothes, and that her business would be nothing without him. It was her responsibility to stand up to him, to tell the world that the father of her two very young children was a rapist.
But she didn’t, so her business should fail. Obviously.
Since when did a woman become responsible for the behaviour of her partner? At what point do we stop viewing a woman as her own person, and instead decide she is simply a reflection of the man in her life? How do we decide the women we will stand with and support, and those who we will cast as accomplices to abuse, when we were not there?
Maybe Chapman did know. Maybe, deep down, she suspected, like the woman who suspects her husband is having an affair but knows the world changes forever when the words are said out loud. Maybe she was – still is – utterly terrified by a man who is famed for being a manipulative and ruthless bully. Or maybe she was fooled by a man who went to startling lengths to cover up his dirty tracks.
Whatever the truth, it’s irrelevant, because she wasn’t in the sauna or the hotel room or the Jacuzzi. It was Weinstein. He is the predator, not her.
Georgina Chapman is not her husband. She is a mother, who no doubt knows her children need to see their mother begin to put her life back together. She’s an employer, who, together with her co-founder Keren Craig is responsible for over 80 people. She is a businesswoman with investors and bank managers to answer to (Weinstein is not an investor in Marchesa, and holds no seat on the board).
She should be allowed to start again.
The Time’s Up campaign and #MeToo movement are brilliant, powerful platforms for good. But we must be careful that they continue to be what they were built to be – empowerment of victims through collective support, not a platform to bully those who do not see an issue the same way that you do. Or a courtroom to decide who is or is not a victim.
It was never the job of the women in Weinstein’s life to moderate his behaviour. He, and he alone, is responsible for his behaviour. And, as such, he is the only one who should be punished for it.