Kamala Harris has been criticised for wearing clothes by Dolce & Gabbana, a luxury fashion brand which has attracted controversy over clothing and advertising seen to be racially offensive.
The new US vice-president wore a polo-necked wool jumper from the Italian fashion house during a lunch with President Joe Biden; a grey checked blazer and trouser suit when swearing in the treasury secretary, Janet Yellen; and a chevron jumper when Biden signed executive orders in the White House.
In a series of posts on Instagram, Vittoria Vignone, who runs the popular Kamala’s Closet, a website which has charted Harris’s outfit choices, asked: “Was it an oversight on the part of her team?
“It’s possible but also incredibly sloppy. They could and should be better, especially after the triumphs of last week. The timing of this so soon after her inaugural choices championed lesser-known American designers of colour is awful no matter how you look at it.”
Harris was praised for wearing clothes by three black-run labels (Pyer Moss, Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson) during inauguration events.
Commenters on the Kamala’s Closet feed echoed Vignone.
“Someone seriously needs to tell her team about Dolce and their problematic issues with race,” wrote one. “I’m stunned she would wear them.”
The label had a close relationship with Melania Trump, dressing her in all black to meet the pope and attend a G7 summit. Designers including Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs said they would not dress her.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Kamala to wear so many new expensive items during her first week in office,” Vignone added. “I also don’t think she should be wearing non-American designers, especially when there are so many American brands to choose from … she and her team should care about the impact her choices have. For example she could lift up a smaller or more affordable business instantly.”
Vignone told the Guardian she had “received more messages and comments than I could respond to” after she shared the D&G images.
“So many people shared my thoughts by saying I articulated something they felt themselves but couldn’t put into words,” she said.
Harris is the first south Asian, black and female vice-president. During the election she was described as an “angry black woman”; called “nasty” by Trump (who also purposely mispronounced her name); and called “a cop” by the left.
Newsweek printed an op-ed which suggested that Harris might not qualify for the vice-presidency – for which it apologised – while some questioned if she was black enough to represent her community. Last month, a Vogue cover featuring Harris was thought “disrespectful” by some.
Dolce & Gabbana did not offer comment.