Donna Karan "Sorry" for Initially Defending Harvey Weinstein, Wondering If Women Were "Asking for It"

DKNY founder says the women who accused the disgraced movie mogul need to look at their own actions

By Meg Swertlow Oct 30, 2017 2:50 PMTags

UPDATE (10/29/17): Facing backlash for her initial comments about Harvey Weinstein, fashion designer Donna Karan sat down with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts Monday to apologize. "I want to say how sorry I am. What I said is so wrong and not who I am," Karan said. Asked to clarify her initial comments on the red carpet, Karan said she just "made a huge, huge mistake."

Karan explained that she was "exhausted" when she initially spoke about Weinstein. "I had just...come from a 14-hour plane trip," she said. "I walked into a situation that I wasn't prepared for in any circumstances whatsoever." At the time, Karan recalled, she hadn't yet heard about the severity of the allegations surrounding Weinstein. "I had been away for a month and a half. I heard a whisper, but there were whispers all over...It wasn't till a day and a half after that I truly heard about it. That's my honest truth," she told Roberts. "I didn't know."

Karan issued an apologetic statement after her quotes caused controversy, but the damage had already been done. Celebrities vowed to no longer wear her designs, and critics claimed her Good Morning America appearance was merely an attempt to save her business. "It's not about my brand," she told Roberts. "I started Urban Zen because I did not want to just be a designer. It was about dressing and addressing the issues at hand, in healthcare, in education, in culture. I want to bring us all together as a team to face the world that we're faced with today...As a woman, for women, I want to bring out who that woman is. I mean, that's my passion. I still do this for over 40 years, as we know. I want women to feel like women, and have that right."

"I love women. I absolutely adore women. I care about them. I'm a mother. I'm a grandmother," Karan said. "And I've never done this before, and I will never, ever do it again."


UPDATE (10/9/17): Amid backlash, Donna Karan wanted to clarify her comments Monday. "Last night, I was honored at the Cinemoi Fashion Film Awards in Hollywood and while answering a question on the red carpet I made a statement that unfortunately is not representative of how I feel or what I believe. I have spent my life championing women," she told E! News in a statement. "My life has been dedicated to dressing and addressing the needs of women, empowering them and promoting equal rights. My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein. 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. I am truly sorry to anyone that I offended and everyone that has ever been a victim."


Donna Karan might be standing by the wrong man.

The designer went against the grain when she came to the defense of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who was fired from The Weinstein Company on Sunday, three days after a New York Times expose revealed three decades worth of alleged sexual harassment.

Since the shocking news hit, a long list of stars, including Dame Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Rose McGowan, alleged victim Ashley Judd and more, have come out of the woodwork to condemn the former Weinstein Company CEO's action, but not Donna Karan. No sirree! 

During a red carpet interview with the Daily Mail at the CinéFashion Film Awards on Sunday, the DKNY designer suggested that women may be "asking for it" because of how they "display" or "present" themselves. 

Celebs in Donna Karan
Michael Tullberg/Getty Images
Sylvain Gaboury/REX/Shutterstock

At the event, Karan was asked to weigh in on the scandal just hours after The Weinstein Company released a statement saying that it had terminated the co-founder of Miramax, effective immediately.

The 69-year-old said, "I think we have to look at ourselves. 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."

She continued, "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?"

The mother of two said, "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?"

The fashion icon certainly may get some more Internet trouble when she continued, "You look at everything all over the world today and how women are dressing and what they are asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble."

In the interview, she also called Weinstein and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, "wonderful people." 

Needless to say, many were not thrilled about the eyebrow-raising comments. 

Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took to Twitter to voice his objections, writing, "To @dkny How many seventeen year olds have you dressed like they are, in your words, 'asking for it'?"

Rose McGowan, a vocal opponent of The Weinstein Company and its ex head honcho, made a pointed response when she posted a photo of the DM article and wrote, "Donna Karan you are a DEPLORABLE. Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress."

Despite Karan's words, Weinstein himself released a statement soon after the NYT article hit—one in which he admitted his fault.

"I came of age in the '60s and '70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then," Weinstein said. "I have since learned it's not an excuse, in the office—or out of it. To anyone. I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed."

He continued. "I appreciate the way I've behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I'm trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment."

Maybe Donna needs a refresher?