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Donna Karan defends Harvey Weinstein: 'Are women asking for it?'

The Guardian logo The Guardian 10/10/2017 Bonnie Malkin
Donna Karan at the CinéFashion film awards in LA. © Startraks Photo/REX/Shutterstock Donna Karan at the CinéFashion film awards in LA.

Fashion designer Donna Karan has come to the defence of film producer Harvey Weinstein by praising the movie mogul and saying women who dress sensually are asking for trouble. 

Weinstein’s alleged conduct has been condemned by his friends Meryl Streep and Judi Dench, who called the claims “horrifying” and “inexcusable”.

He was fired by the board of the Weinstein Company on Sunday after it learned of new information about his behaviour.

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The producer had been on a leave of absence after the New York Times published a report that detailed acts of alleged harassment towards multiple women, including actors Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd.

But on Sunday, Karan, who is also a friend of Weinstein’s, told the Daily Mail that he was “wonderful”.

Karan said women must consider if the way they dress suggests they are “asking for it”.

“I think we have to look at ourselves,” she said on the red carpet at the CinéFashion film awards in Los Angeles.

“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.

“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?”

Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman attend the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) © The Associated Press Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman attend the Planned Parenthood 100th Anniversary Gala on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) Karan said women who dressed provocatively were asking for trouble.

“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.”

Karan described Weinstein and his wife, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, as “wonderful people” and said he has done “amazing things”.

“I don’t think we’re only looking at him. I think we’re looking at a world much deeper than that.”

The DKNY founder, whose business is mainly built on making clothes for women, is one of the first people to publicly defend Weinstein since the allegations came to light.

Karan’s comments were seized on by Rose McGowan, one of Weinstein’s accusers, who called the designer “scum in a fancy dress”.

Other Hollywood actors, including Mia Farrow and Sarah Wynter, were also quick to condemn her remarks.

Weinstein has issued an apology and has said he is seeking therapy. His lawyers say the New York Times story is “saturated with false and defamatory statements” and relies “on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report”.

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