Just one week ago, on 10 May, Vogue released an interview titled ‘Georgina Chapman on Life After Harvey Weinstein’. Much controversy has surrounded its publishing, with many praising its willingness to give a platform to a woman who is undoubtedly plagued by her ex-husband-to-be’s horrific behaviour, and others suggesting she is undeserving of such an opportunity.
The interview does a good job of humanising both Chapman and Weinstein; it gives insight into their family and seemingly normal marriage. Yet, it begs us to question whether it is necessary to involve Chapman in this discussion, when weaving her into the narrative of her husband’s misdemeanours only seeks to place blame on her. In many ways, Chapman can’t win. If she had had any inkling about her husband’s double life, there is no way she could admit she knew. If she didn’t, the excavation of her personality seems cruel when it really isn’t her fault. An interview with Weinstein’s wife will naturally want to highlight complicity, and if that isn’t found, she appears naïve and irresponsible for remaining oblivious to his crimes.
Many have criticised her choice to speak with the fashion magazine over a more politicised newspaper.
Georgina Chapman is the designer and co-founder of the fashion label Marchesa. In light of the Weinstein scandal, many have vowed to never wear her clothing again despite Marchesa being one of the most popular red-carpet designers acting within the celebrity sphere. Though Chapman herself admits that it felt inappropriate to offer her dresses to the stars this year, there’s no use in boycotting a wife for her husband’s actions. What difference will that make? Generally, there has been limited acknowledgement of Chapman’s struggle, and what it must feel like to know your husband has ruined the lives of so many women. Showing empathy towards her doesn’t mean undermining the pain of Weinstein’s victims, but instead it empowers women to exist beyond shame they are forced to feel due to the wrongful acts of the men they are associated with. Either way, Chapman has undergone her own self-inflicted hardships. She claims she hadn’t been out of the house for five months following the circulation of Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations in October. Clearly, she has her own shit to deal with.
Vogue tells stories of Chapman’s childhood and career in attempt to detach her from the scandal – which surprisingly isn’t really focus of the interview. Many have criticised her choice to speak with the fashion magazine over a more politicised newspaper. And yet, it’s an understandable move particularly when considering her long-standing relationship with the fashion industry. Vogue may have felt like a more comfortable outlet through which Chapman could have her first say on her husband’s crimes. When asked about her marriage, she describes it as ‘a very happy one’ and claims to never have suspected her husband’s predatory acts. This is a valuable narrative because it really is important that this man is humanised, in a family setting with a wife and two young children, to make people realise that sexual assault is not exclusive to a specific type of evil but could be carried out by a member of your family, a friend, someone you trust. In fact, in the aftermath of the slew of allegations many celebrities, industry insiders and critics commented on the precise reason why the Weinstein allegations were so controversial. It was because no one had dared to say anything of Harvey’s bullyboy personality, it came as such a shock to the world, and indeed his wife. #MeToo has helped the world realise that sexual assault is often a silenced cause, and that we shouldn’t assume innocence because a person has a family and seemingly normal life. A lot of people argue that Chapman must have known about his behaviour because it was so widespread. But this line does nothing at all. Pointing the finger at Weinstein’s wife does not comfort the victims, it just tries to find someone to blame or someone who could have prevented it. In a time where solidarity has triumphed for women of the #MeToo campaign, there is no good in making Chapman suffer for her husband’s sins.