Thank God for Dolce and Gabbana. Where other fashion designers play with their image like Mr Benn, the children’s character who adopts a different persona every time he changes his hat, they have a remarkably consistent – for fashion – way of looking at the world. It’s about family, the kind of families they had, of the Italian/Sicilian Catholic variety. So, their beautiful – and I mean really beautiful, not just freaky, unlike some – models are placed in the context of grannies, grandads, picturesque peasants and children – occasionally in first communion outfits. Their last show, which the fashion press loved, brought the house down at the end, when the models came on the catwalk holding or leading their adorable children. It was, I suppose, babies as accessories, but another way of looking at it was a celebration of motherhood. Which honestly, fashion doesn’t often do.
But there’s been a giant, collective hissy intake of breathe in the reaction to their interview with the Italian Panorama magazine, in which they express their objection to same sex marriage and IVF parenthood. ‘We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.’ Dolce added that procreation ‘must be an act of love’, saying: ‘You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.’ Gabbana added: ‘The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.’ In other words, they really believe in the idea of family they play with in their work.
This is a perfectly consistent, coherent view of things from two gay men who are also Catholics. It wasn’t quite what Gabbana said a few years ago when he suggested having a child by artificial insemination, but he has never downplayed the importance to a child of having a mother. Indeed until about five minutes ago, this was the collective view of most Brits. And as regards IVF, their plain speaking has the embarrassing merit of being true.
But since the gay marriage debate, any departure from the received wisdom about how all relationships are the same and every family is just as good as every other and it’s all really sexist to suggest IVF techniques should take account of a child’s need of a father – and now, a mother – is greeted by the lynch mob. In this case, the folks with brands are led – wouldn’t you just know it – by Elton John, cheerleader for gay parenthood with his two boys with David Furnish. He’s come over all cross with D&G:
‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic”. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF – a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana’
To their credit the designers have laughed off the threat, saying that they live in a free country and Elton, poor thing, can’t cope with anyone disagreeing with them. They don’t know how true that is. In Britain, there are things you can’t say, not without celebdom descending on you. Trouble is, Dolce and Gabbana design clothes that are really, truly beautiful. Unlike tortured geniuses like Alexander McQueen who seemed sometimes to hate women, they design for women as though they love them and find them beautiful. Which they probably do.
I’d really like to say at this point that I’m going to buy D&G just to spite Elton John and to support two gay designers who actually don’t feel they have to storm the citadel of normal parenthood in order to prove themselves but I couldn’t afford to, not even in the sale. But if I were Vogue, I wouldn’t be falling over myself to follow Elton’s lead.