Just days ago, Scarlett Johansson sparked controversy by wearing a gown by Marchesa — the label co-owned by Harvey Weinstein‘s estranged wife, Georgina Chapman — to the Vogue-sponsored Met Gala. Now Chapman herself is back in the spotlight, thanks to an emotional new interview in — that’s right — Vogue.
The British-born fashion designer has been maintaining a low profile since news broke last fall of Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. The 42-year-old, who is in the process of divorcing the disgraced film producer, admits to writer Jonathan Van Meter that she initially struggled to take action about what she describes as a “very happy marriage” when the allegations became public.
“My head was spinning,” Chapman, who has two young children with Weinstein, tells the magazine. “And it was difficult because the first article [in the New York Times] 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.”
Jodi Kantor, who won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting the first round of allegations with her Times colleague Megan Twohey, has questioned Chapman’s quote, noting that the article also included recent allegations of assault, not simply claims from “a time long before” the couple had met.
In the aftermath of the Weinstein news, Chapman claims that she lost 10 pounds in five days. She canceled Marchesa’s New York Fashion Week show, and ruled against sending out dress samples for celebrities to wear.
“We didn’t feel it was appropriate given the situation,” she says of keeping the fashion line under the radar. “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 did her own mourning by turning to therapy and the support of close friends. Her longtime friend David Oyelowo, of Selma fame, tells Vogue that her situation is “literally your worst nightmare in terms of a marriage, in terms of the future of your kids and your business.”
Chapman says she was “so humiliated and so broken” by the experience, and is especially pained by the effect it will have on her children.
“I didn’t think it was respectful to go out,” she says of her reaction to the Weinstein fallout. “I thought, Who am I to be parading around with all of this going on? It’s still so very, very raw. I was walking up the stairs the other day and I stopped; it was like all the air had been punched out of my lungs.
“There was a part of me that was terribly naive — clearly, so naive,” she adds. “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? … I just can’t bear it for them!”
Her famous friends acknowledge the widespread speculation that Chapman must have been aware of the mogul’s behavior, and was therefore complicit — she insists she “never” suspected her husband of pursuing other women. (Others have defended her, saying it’s not fair to blame women for the crimes of men, while Anna Wintour’s editor’s letter states that she is “convinced” that Chapman knew nothing.)
“The thing that pains me, is that when anyone finds out that I know George, that’s the first thing they say,” model Karen Elson says. “Like she is somehow responsible for his hideous behavior. When I say, ‘Well, actually she didn’t know,’ it becomes this other judgment: ‘How could she not have known?’ Or: ‘Well, that’s on her if she didn’t.’ It’s so complicated.”
“She’s a good person who married a bad person,” agrees writer Neil Gaiman, another famous pal. “Or, if you want to be less judgmental, she’s a good person who married a person who did some terrible things. And who now has to make a go of it on her own. And I know she can. And I’m sure she will.”
Chapman appears to be ready to “make a go of it,” if the Vogue profile and the gradual reemergence of Marchesa on the red carpet are any indication. She’s also looking to move herself and her kids onto a farm.
But the past hasn’t entirely been cut off. Chapman is still in touch with Weinstein, and she still has kind words for the man she considered a “wonderful partner.”
“Well, he’s a wonderful father to my kids,” she says of their connection. “But initially? He’s charismatic. He’s an incredibly bright, very learned man. And very charitable. He paid for a friend of mine’s mother, who had breast cancer, to go to a top doctor. He was amazing like that. He is amazing like that. That is the tough part of this… this black-and-white thing… Life isn’t like that.”
Despite the personal upheaval in her own life, Chapman says she’s careful to not feel sorry for herself.
“I don’t want to be viewed as a victim,” she says, “because I don’t think I am. I am a woman in a s*** situation, but it’s not unique.”
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