Dolce and Gabbana's views on IVF are wrong, but should we really be surprised? And what do all their new haters actually want?

I've joined Elton John's call to boycott D&G by cancelling my order of their £11,750 gown that fits the proportions of a pre-pubescent boy with rickets

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The Independent Online

When I first heard that Elton John was boycotting Dolce and Gabbana over their views on “synthetic children”, my first thought was “What? Elton John can fit into Dolce and Gabbana?”

This isn’t a snide aside at Elton’s appearance. No, Elton is perfectly average man-in-the-street sized. Not a lettuce and laxative devotee. In fact, the sort of body shape one might see in Sainsbury’s by the bread – ergo, not anyone that Dolce and Gabbana, or the higher echelons of the fashion planet, and its interminable hierarchy of fools – cater for.

As women, we are inured to the casual loathing of the fashion world. It does not surprise me that Stefano Gabbana has casually blurted out a view that IVF babies aren’t, well, real. We’ve taken their flak about body shape and feminine acceptability for decades.

It doesn’t astound me that D&G have apparently scant respect for millions of women with iffy menstrual cycles and wonky ovaries, undertaking costly, physically gruelling processes to have babies. For D&G presumably the most important thing a woman can do is be 17, weigh 80lbs, and look pleasing in an advertising photo which cost approximately $147,000, three days and a crew of 19 people to produce.

An actual human woman with 42E boobs or a size-16 bum – or one with faulty Fallopian tubes – is orbiting so far outside of cloud cuckoo land, where D&G live, her feelings are negligible. It’s almost gratifying – via the steady march of equality – that everyday gay men can now finally experience the casual fascism of the fashion king and have empathy for our ancient pain.

“Oi, you!” Stefano Gabbana seems to be saying in the Panorama magazine interview, “your kids aren’t real, and your family unit is a sham. But hey… remember to buy our aftershave!” Oddly, as gay men themselves, Dolce & Gabbana didn’t read the memo that all showbiz names and brands hoping for longevity are handed at career launch. “Rule 1: Never piss off the gays.” And let me be quite clear, Stefano, with your talk of “synthetic children”, the gays are pissed off.

Not all of them, of course. I’m sure some gay men and women worldwide shouted “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel!” However, D&G’s remarks have created the perfect internet storm, with its primary stage being the riling of the beautifully rambunctious Elton John.

 

Despite Elton himself being the sort of gorgeously bitchy entity who keeps interviewers replete with pithy soundbites, and Interflora afloat with apology bouquets, the singer – now a father to two boys – was not taking D&G’s comments lying down.

Everything about Elton John’s incandescence on Instagram is gaspingly brilliant. First, the fact that Elton has taken the comments so much to heart, almost as if Gabbana had smote personally Zachary and Elijah’s existence. Second, how Elton dissolves into perfect school-gate fishwife parlance, accusing D&G of being “judgemental”. Elton, the king of the one-line zinger, treating being “judgemental” akin to “entering Gap and blowing one’s nose on several of the turtle necks”.

I have never quite fully understood the 21st-century obsession with using “judgemental” as the ultimate pejorative term. We appear to desire an egalitarian world where people can observe and speak freely, unless, however, they comment on anything to do with our own lives, then we want to shriek about being “judged”, as if it were a maiming physical attack. Regardless of this, Elton’s reaction to Stefano Gabbana is a wonderful example of how bonkers with love, loyalty and tiredness babies make a person. That’s not synthetic love, Stefano, that’s real, beating-heart, blood and guts love.

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Stefano Gabbana (left) and Domenico Dolce attend a party in London

 

Post Elton’s tirade, the internet blazed with debate and anti-D&G ire. Were their comments internalised homophobia? (A little bit, yes) Was it a product of Catholic guilt? (A lot, probably). Should we be surprised when Italian Catholics – even the gay ones – have a hard-wired, “old country” sense of what a “real family” consists of? Do D&G not care about their gay clientele? Were they saying that babies without mummies are little more than alien lifeforms? Boycott Dolce and Gabbana! Immediately I cancelled all plans of buying that £11,750 embroidered tulle gown designed to fit the proportions of a pre-pubescent boy with rickets. That would show them.

Putting aside Gabbana’s feisty, unsympathetic language for a moment, I cannot help feel that, in being asked to declare his position on having children, Gabbana was being dragged into the greatest conversational no-win situation for adults. Until recent years, gay people have been, more often than not, excused from the intrusive “When are you having a baby?” question. Now, due to equality, they too must answer, only to find that saying, “No, never” is problematic. Stefano, I feel, needs to get his polite excuse sorted. Gabbana is 52. By this age childless heterosexuals are well-schooled that blurting out, “I never liked the thought of IVF”, or, “I didn’t want one on my own without a dad around” will kill a dinner party quicker than dodgy clams.

Online fury at D&G has snowballed. Lots of people who would never have bought D&G, hadn’t read the Panorama interview, didn’t particularly care one way or another about Elton John, and didn’t need IVF or a womb surrogacy, spent all of Sunday in a rage because someone, somewhere, said something they didn’t agree with. I cannot “judge” people for this, having been swept away in boggle-eyed web rage more times than I care to admit. Still of late, as I watch Twitter storms brewing and the din of the echo-chamber grow deafening, I wonder “What do ‘the people’ actually want?”

An apology from Gabbana would by no means suffice. Do they want his full retirement from public life, perhaps? How about a Damascene conversion on prime-time television? Gabbana’s main response to date was to call Elton “a fascist” and call for his mutual boycott. This doesn’t look like settling any time soon. One thing I do know is that hell hath no fury like Elton John – and his children – scorned.

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