Alexander Wang is another designer hoping to return to public favor. On April 19, he invited 800 people to his fall 2022 runway show in Chinatown in Los Angeles. Models, including a pregnant Adriana Lima, paraded down the runway in ruffle minidresses and deconstructed leather at the event, titled Fortune City. The immersive space was reimagined with architectural influence from Chinese banquet halls. And the designer donated funds directly to the Los Angeles Chinatown Corporation; immediately following the show, shoppers could purchase a $50 Fortune City graphic T-shirt with 100 percent of net proceeds going to the organization.
"[Alexander Wang] will continue to effect [sic] positive change," the press release read. But what about the very negative impact of his sexual-assault allegations unearthed just a year prior?
The runway spectacle felt like it was staged to draw attention away from those accusations, which spread like wildfire across the internet in late 2020. Wang was publicly denounced for sexual-assault allegations that detailed scenarios in which he allegedly drugged, groped, or sexually assaulted people at parties. (Wang responded to the reports in March 2021, acknowledging that his behavior was harmful but saying he disagreed on details.)
Meanwhile, like Dolce & Gabbana, Wang maintains his pack of devoted street style stars, including Rihanna, who stepped out in an Alexander Wang miniskirt and thigh-high boots, and Julia Fox, who crafted a DIY outfit from Wang's denim. Behati Prinsloo-Levine, Candice Swanepoel, and Alessandra Ambrosio were among the celebrities in attendance at Wang's recent fashion show.
Celebrity stylist Jared Eng, who works with stars like Joey King and Kodi Smit-McPhee, tells POPSUGAR that he'll avoid brands that are considered problematic: "[If] creative directors of brands are under fire for something they've said or done, we'll steer clear of that brand for a while until an apology has been made and it looks like they've learned from their mistakes."
Likewise, celebrity-stylist team Zadrian Smith and Sarah Edmiston, who dress Ariana DeBose and Naomi Scott, are discerning about the brands they work with. "We're not going to allow our clients to be put forward for somebody else's agenda, especially if we question in any way the authenticity of their agenda, or if we are concerned that back of house they are not doing the work, and they want to use our client for a gesture," says Edmiston. "Our people are too intelligent for that, we value them too highly for that, and we work in full transparency. We would just have a very transparent chat with the client about our research and thoughts and feelings, and then ultimately the decision is theirs, of course."
"There definitely needs to be an apology [from a brand] to show they've learned from their past."
That said, Smith points out that stylists who do dress their clients in Dolce & Gabbana, let's say, aren't necessarily supporting the founders' actions or ignoring the controversy. They could be focused on rehabilitation instead. "We're not privy to the conversations that are being had behind closed doors," he says.
Even when the fashion industry does step away from a brand, it's less of a permanent cancellation and more of an extended pause. While Eng believes a fashion house can be "canceled" through recklessness, he acknowledges that redemption is still possible after a time. "Brands that consistently have a bad rap with multiple infractions over the course of a number of years I would say could be canceled. That just goes to show that the brand hasn't learned from their mistakes at all," he says.
At the same time, he's willing to continue working with a label after an apology and avoidance period. "There definitely needs to be an apology [from a brand] to show they've learned from their past. I think only after a certain amount of time has lapsed that I would be open to dressing a client in a brand I might have avoided in the past because of their ethics or history," he says. "I've come to forgive but not forget. There are always polite and professional ways to turn down opportunities from a brand. And it's not to say 'no' forever, it's only 'no' for now."