How New York Fashion Week is taking a stand against Trump

Last month’s news that Equinox and SoulCycle owner Stephen Ross would be hosting a Hamptons fundraiser for Donald Trump sent gym-goers into a frenzy, with petitions circulated, memberships canceled and boycotts threatened. But the billionaire’s Trump ties have also impacted New York Fashion Week — thanks in part to his wife’s style connections.

Kara Ross, who married Ross in 2003, is a jewelry designer who, until this month, sat on the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). New CFDA chairman Tom Ford confirmed to WWD that Ross was one of four board members (including Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman, the estranged wife of Harvey Weinstein) just moved to non-voting emeritus status in order to make the board “more diverse in age and more diverse in every way.”

Ford also denied that Ross’s departure was punishment for her involvement in the Trump fundraiser, saying the board shake-up has been in the works for months.

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“Kara is going to be leaving the board,” he told WWD. “However, this has absolutely nothing to do with her political views or her [husband’s] fundraiser for Trump.

“I mean, this country is about freedom of speech; it’s about freedom of political view,” he continued. “There were so many calls for people within the industry for us to remove her from the board, which is totally wrong. It is not democratic, it is not what this country is about. To have done that would have been the same kind of censorship that our current administration tries to do with the press — tries to manipulate, in a sense, real freedom of speech. We never do that, and that is not at all what this was.”

Along with the calls to have Ross kicked off the CFDA board — a moot point now that her status has changed — the Trump fundraiser fallout saw jewelry designer Dana Lorenz withdraw her CFDA membership altogether in protest. Lorenz, who designs under the Fallon label, posted an open letter calling out CFDA leadership for declining to cut its ties with Ross.

“I was told ‘not our problem’ and to focus my energies elsewhere,” Lorenz wrote. “So I will. The annual membership dues and future high-priced tickets to awards will be spent fighting what this administration is destroying, specifically equal rights and climate change.”

Other designers have protested the Rosses’ political leanings by pulling their New York Fashion Week shows from Hudson Yards, the Manhattan real estate development overseen by The Related Companies, of which Stephen Ross is chairman, founder and majority owner.

8 PHOTOSPrabal Gurung's politically-inspired showSee GalleryPrabal Gurung's politically-inspired showNEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08: A model walks the runway at the Prabal Gurung Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08: A model walks the runway at the Prabal Gurung Ready to Wear Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show during New York Fashion Week on September 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 08:Models walk the runway finale for Prabal Gurung during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery I at Spring Studios on September 08, 2019 in New York City.(Photo by Randy Brooke/WireImage)Up Next

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Though fashion designer Prabal Gurung had considered staging his Sunday runway show at The Vessel at Hudson Yards, news of the Ross-backed fundraiser prompted him to find another venue and issue a blistering statement on Twitter.

“This is no longer about party lines, especially now with all the mass murders at the hands of domestic terrorists and white supremacists,” the Nepalese-American designer, who has previously dressed former first lady Michelle Obama, wrote in a lengthy Twitter thread calling out Ross. “Rather, this is a choice that one needs to make now. This is about choosing between two sides, the right or the wrong sides of the history.”

Gurung’s 10th-anniversary collection also made a political statement, with models wearing red, white and blue “Who Gets To Be American?” sashes in a nod to his immigrant roots and a celebration of the “America I know is still there,” according to his show notes.

Gurung isn’t alone. Rag & Bone’s Friday show was also moved from The Shed, a nonprofit arts center at Hudson Yards. And according to the New York Post, The Shed was also ruled out by designers like Vera Wang and Michael Kors, though the former denied any political motivations.

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And then there are the Trumps themselves. Though members of the first family — notably first daughter Tiffany Trump, who was MIA at Taoray Wang’s Saturday show — have been frequent front-row attendees, they’ve steered clear of the catwalk this season. Zang Toi’s Tuesday presentation may change that, however; last season’s America-inspired show drew the triumvirate of Donald Trump Jr., his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and POTUS’s second wife, Marla Maples.

30 PHOTOSTiffany Trump at past NYFWSee GalleryTiffany Trump at past NYFWNEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08:Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang – Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on September 8, 2018 in New York City.(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08:Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang – Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on September 8, 2018 in New York City.(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08:Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang – Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on September 8, 2018 in New York City.(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang – Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on September 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Tiffany Trump (C) attends the Taoray Wang – Front Row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery II at Spring Studios on September 8, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09: NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09: (L-R) Karen Shiboleth, Peter Brant, Jr. and Tiffany Trump attend the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09: NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09:(L-R) Peter Brant, Jr., Tiffany Trump and Andrew Warren attend the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 9, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09:Tiffany Trump is seen leaving the Philipp Plein fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 9, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 09:Tiffany Trump is seen arriving at the Philipp Plein fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Hammerstein Ballroom on September 9, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 15:Designer Vivienne Tam (L) and Tiffany Trump pose backstage at Vivienne Tam FW2017 Runway Show at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq during New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 15, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Vivienne Tam)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 15:Tiffany Trump poses backstage at Vivienne Tam FW2017 Runway Show at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq during New York Fashion Week: The Shows on February 15, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Vivienne Tam)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 15:Tiffany Trump (C) attends the Vivienne Tam Runway Show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 15:Tiffany Trump attends the Vivienne Tam Show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 14:Tiffany Trump attends the Dennis Basso collection during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1 Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 14, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 14: Danielle Naftali, Tiffany Trump and Andrew Warren attend the Dennis Basso Collection Show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 14, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 11:(L-R) Marla Maples, Tiffany Trump and Ross Mechanic attend the Taoray Wang collection during, New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 11, 2017 in New York City.(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Taoray Wang)Tiffany Trump takes ‘selfies’ backstage after the Taoray Wang show at New York Fashion Week on February 11, 2017. / AFP / Angela Weiss(Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 12:Cheryl Casone, Karsten McVay and Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at The Dock, Skylight at Moynihan Station on September 12, 2016 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Taoray Wang)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 12: Tiffany Trump attends the Taoray Wang fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at The Dock, Skylight at Moynihan Station on September 12, 2016 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Taoray Wang)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08:Designer Andrew Warren and Tiffany Trump attend Just | Drew presentation at Metropolitan Pavilion on September 8, 2016 in New York City.(Photo by Steve Zak/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: Tiffany Trump attends the Mara Hoffman show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at The Salon at Lincoln Center on September 6, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/FilmMagic)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06:Tiffany Trump attends Mara Hoffman during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at The Salon at Lincoln Center on September 6, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Rob Kim/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 05: Tiffany Trump attends the G-Star RAW Ocean Night Event during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at 23 Wall Street on September 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 05:Tiffany Trump attends the Charlotte Ronson Presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion WeekSpring 2015 at The Pavilion at Lincoln Center on September 5, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Charlotte Ronson)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: Tiffany Trump attends the Jason Wu after party during Spring 2014 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Electric Room on September 6, 2013 in New York City.(Photo by Wendell Teodoro/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 07: Tiffany Trump poses during the Charlotte Ronson Presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at The Box at Lincoln Center on September 7, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for Charlotte Ronson)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: Tiffany Trump attends the Project Runway Spring 2014 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Theatre at Lincoln Center on September 6, 2013 in New York City.(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 06: Tiffany Trump attends the Jason Wu After Party during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at The Electric Room on September 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)Up Next

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