Since the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein dropped in October, 2017, his ex-wife Georgina Chapman, fashion designer and co-founder of the label Marchesa, has been largely silent. Now, she has finally spoken about how she’s been coping in the months since then, in a profile for Vogue.
In the profile, Vogue writer Jonathan Van Meter asks her if she’s seeing a therapist to cope with the allegations, which she says have left her humiliated. Chapman breaks down:
“I have,” she says. “At first I couldn’t, because I was too shocked. And I somehow felt that I didn’t deserve it. And then I realized: This has happened. I have to own it. I have to move forward.” She takes a long, deep breath. “There was a part of me that was terribly naive—clearly, so naive. I have moments of rage, I have moments of confusion, I have moments of disbelief! And I have moments when I just cry for my children. What are their lives going to be?” She has been crying through most of this, and now she breaks down into sobs loud enough that her assistant appears with a box of tissues. “What are people going to say to them?” She is crying so hard she has to take a moment. “It’s like, they love their dad. They love him.” It is almost unbearable to witness, this broken person in front of me. “I just can’t bear it for them!”
She also talks about her immediate reaction to the New Yorker and New York Times stories dropping:
“I lost ten pounds in five days. I couldn’t keep food down.” I ask her how long it took for her to absorb the information. “About two days,” she says. “My head was spinning. And it was difficult because the first article was about a time long before I’d ever met him, so there was a minute where I couldn’t make an informed decision. And then the stories expanded and I realized that this wasn’t an isolated incident. And I knew that I needed to step away and take the kids out of here.”
And she, and her friends, maintain that Chapman was not aware of Weinstein’s predatory behavior:
Was it a good marriage? “That’s what makes this so incredibly painful: I had what I thought was a very happy marriage. I loved my life.” Asked if she was ever suspicious about his behavior, she says, “Absolutely not. Never.” For one thing, he traveled constantly. “And I’ve never been one of those people who obsesses about where someone is.”
But if you’re expecting a deeper introspection into Chapman’s last few months, or perhaps a larger commentary on what it must feel like to be the wife of a prolific sexual harasser the likes of Weinstein (what would she like to say to all those women, if she has anything to say? In retrospect were there any signs? How does she respond to those who say she was complicit?) you won’t find it in Vogue’s treatment of her.
At about eight paragraphs in, the profile, which includes quotes from pals like Neil Gaiman, Huma Abedin, and David Oyelowo, turns from a redemptive narrative for Chapman and into a redemptive narrative for Marchesa. The story is essentially a brand profile, which isn’t particularly surprising given this is Vogue. I can see the PR pitch now: we’ll give you Chapman if the piece is mostly about Marchesa. There is a visit to Marchesa’s NYC atelier, discussions about her fashion aspirations, and glimpses at new evening gown designs and their price points. You might remember that gossip magazines reported that Chapman was furious at the sexual misconduct allegations when she found out—furious at the prospect that it could tarnish her fashion line.
When Chapman discusses how she dealt with the backlash, she is very aware of how her behavior could be perceived. “All the women who have been hurt deserve dignity and respect, so I want to give it the time it deserves. It’s a time for mourning, really,” Chapman says about not offering her clothes for awards season. Elsewhere, she talks about how she did not go out in public for months. “I was so humiliated and so broken . . . that . . . I, I, I . . . didn’t think it was respectful to go out,” she says. “I thought, Who am I to be parading around with all of this going on?”
I’m not sure what exactly I want, personally, from Chapman. But it’s difficult for me to look at Marchesa’s success and not see Weinstein’s handprints, considering he forced actresses to wear the clothes on the red carpet. Chapman isn’t to blame for the mistakes of her abusive husband, no woman in that situation could be. “I don’t want to be viewed as a victim,” she says. “Because I don’t think I am.” But ultimately, I’m not sure a resurrection of Marchesa is the best look right now, even though Chapman has clearly decided it’s finally time for it to happen.