Italian fashion designer Stefano Gabbana is calling on fans to boycott Elton John in a war of words stemming from Gabbana’s comments about in-vitro fertilization.
Gabbana defended his “freedom to speak” in response to John’s pledge to boycott Dolce & Gabbana, the famed Italian fashion house founded by Gabbana and Domenico Dolce, over their statements to Panorama magazine about “synthetic” children born from “rented” wombs.
“No chemical children: life has a natural course, there are things that shouldn’t be modified,” the magazine says in a quote attributed to both designers. The magazine also promises insights from the designers on “the importance of relationships within conventional families with very, very traditional values” in an interview that hit Italian newsstands last week.
But Sir Elton appears to be winning the social media war with the hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana, which by Monday morning had been used more than 35,000 times on Twitter since John invoked it on Sunday. By comparison, Gabbana’s #boycotteltonjohn has been used just 1,600 times on Twitter, according to social media search tool Topsy.
The spat began on Sunday when John, who has two children with husband David Furnish through IVF, issued a strong repudiation of the pair’s statements to Panorama.
“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 fulfill their dream of having children,” he said Sunday on Instagram.
“Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again.”
The sentiment quickly gathered support from supporters including celebrities Ricky Martin, Al Roker and Courtney Love. Tennis star Martina Navratilova tweeted her support for John’s post, saying “My D&G shirts are going in the bin — don’t want ANYONE to wear them.”
The comments struck some as hypocritical coming from a couple that was romantically involved until 2005 (they continued working together after the breakup). Still, Gabbana has dropped hints in interviews of his “traditional” views toward family structure. He told an Italian publication in 2006 that he had once approached a female friend and asked her to be a surrogate mother because he was “opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.”
Gabbana was quick to react, calling John a “fascist” in an Instagram comment that was later deleted, according to CNN affiliate TGCom24. Gabbana also sought to discredit reports that they told Panorama in this instance they objected to same-sex adoption, even though Gabbana took that position in his 2006 interview.
By Sunday evening, Gabbana’s Instagram feed was full of screengrabs and reposts from people who supported his right to voice his opinion.
“It’s a shame that you are not allowed to say what you like,” one person said in a comment on Gabbana’s Instagram. “You have every right to say what you want, especially as you weren’t disrespectful nor immature like Elton was. His comments are unnecessary, cheap and childish.”
Gabbana issued a statement saying he and Dolce had not intended to judge others.
“We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it. We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices,” the statement read.
Dolce also defended his views in statement and said he was not applying them to other people.
“I’m Sicilian and I grew up in a traditional family, made up of a mother, a father and children. I am very well aware of the fact that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I’ve known. But in my personal experience, family had a different configuration….I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions,” the statement read.