As Stephen Ross is set to host a fundraising luncheon at his Hamptons home for President Donald Trump today, a backlash as erupted on social media against the businesses and properties tied to the real estate mogul.
Ross is the chairman and founder of Related Companies — the firm that owns the Hudson Yards mixed-use complex in New York City — and his wife is Council of Fashion Designers of America board member Kara Ross. According to The Washington Post, tickets to the event start at $100,000, with a “roundtable discussion” valued at $250,000, which would collectively help support Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.
Users on social media quickly denounced the event, with some threatening to boycott Hudson Yards as well as brands like SoulCycle and Equinox, of which Ross is an investor.
One member of the fashion industry has also responded by the same token: Prabal Gurung, who was propositioned to host his 10-year anniversary show during New York Fashion Week in September at Hudson Yards’ Vessel — a sculpture of interconnecting flights of stairs conceived by British artist Thomas Heatherwick and heavily funded by Ross.
The designer took to Twitter, calling out the billionaire executive and referring to the current political and social climate as “turbulent and dangerous… inspired by President Trump’s ugly, divisive, racist rhetoric.”
In a 10-part tweet, Gurung wrote, “To read that Stephen Ross, chairman [and] founder of Related Companies… is hosting a fundraiser for President Trump in the Hamptons, is appalling, shocking [and] an indication of their integrity [and] values. A company of this size, resources and reach has the potential to make a massive and positive impact on our community and is instead putting its efforts into fostering an unsafe culture.”
He added: “I am not calling this out to be part of the cancel culture or start some tirade against people, but rather to question these individuals whose motivation seems to be nothing but $$$ and to also challenge our own integrity and choices that we make everyday.”
Upon hearing about Ross’ fundraiser, the designer subsequently announced the withdrawal of his participation at the Vessel. “Removing our brand and selves from this is my choice, and that is my decision,” he said. “I am not expecting anyone else to do it; however it was the right thing to do, for me, and I do want to speak out to create transparency and awareness.”
Spring Studios remains the official venue for next month’s fashion shows, but event organizer IMG — which commands production for high-profile brands including Prabal Gurung, Rebecca Minkoff and Anna Sui — has yet to reveal its main location.
In a statement obtained by several media outlets, Ross defended his choice to host the fundraiser.
“I always have been an active participant in the democratic process. While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about,” he wrote. “I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”
FN has reached out to the CFDA for comment from Kara Ross.
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