‘Can you spell Gabbana?’

The internet has been in frenzy this week since Elton John started a campaign to Boycott Dolce & [...]

The internet has been in frenzy this week since Elton John started a campaign to Boycott Dolce & Gabbana after the designer’s claims that IVF children are ‘synthetic’.

There are a mass of opinions surrounding the topic; comments have been made by the designers, Sir Elton John, Italian politicians and a variety of celebrities not to mention millions of social media users. With new comments being made each day from a variety of different sources, here at House of Coco we couldn’t help but be intrigued.

The initial comments were taken from Italian magazine Panorama, in which Dolce revealed that he felt he could not and should not have children because he is gay;

“You are born to a mother and a father. Or at least that’s how it should be,” Dolce said. “I call children of chemistry ‘synthetic children’. Rented wombs, semen chosen from a catalogue… psychiatrists are not ready to confront the effects of this experimentation.”

This caught the attention of Sir Elton John; as a father to two sons, Zachary, four, and Elijah, one, John stated that the comments were “archaic” and “deeply insulting”. He then took his stance to Instagram, alongside a picture of the designer duo Elton captioned the image;

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“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’,” John said on Instagram. “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 & Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

Before long a variety of celebrities were supporting the boycott of the brand. Victoria Beckham added to the debate tweeting: “Sending love to Elton, David, Zachary, Elijah and all the beautiful IVF babies.”

Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain was ‘shocked’ by the comments; Courtney Love called the comments ‘senseless bigotry’. Ricky Martin also tweeted; “Your voices are too powerful to be spreading so much hate. Wake up, its 2015, love yourselves guys.” Danish model, Josephine Skriver, who has walked for Dolce & Gabbana, joined the debate by posting on Instagram with the caption, “I am a child born of love and nothing else. #IAmNotSynthetic #IVF.”

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The debate wasn’t just with celebrities but many people voiced their opinions on Twitter, the majority stating they were Team Elton and supported the Boycott. Others saying that they couldn’t afford products from the brand anyway. However whether you can or cannot afford D&G labelled products, the campaigns intention was to raise awareness of the discriminatory message that a global brand has dished out.

Although Twitter may be Team Elton, Italian politicians support the designers and have compared the boycott to the attitudes that led to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Also claiming that Elton John was intending to stamp out freedom of expression and his retaliation was a ‘premeditated action to damage one of the most famous exponents of ‘made in Italy’ in the world.”

Roberto Formigoni said; “I’m with Dolce and Gabbana and I applaud their courageous statement, this is freedom of expression. The opinions of Dolce and Gabbana are significant because they are both homosexual and they think along the same lines as the majority of Italians. A child needs a mother and a father, full stop.”

With emotions and opinions running high, the designers spoke up stating;

“Dolce has his own ideas. These attacks are fascist. I wasn’t expecting it from a person like Elton John whom I considered – I underline considered – intelligent. You preach understanding, you preach tolerance and then you attack? Just because someone thinks differently to you? Is that supposed to be a democratic way of thinking? Enlightened? He’s ignorant, in the sense that he denies ways of seeing things that may not be his but are just as deserving of respect.”

“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. That is the place where I learnt the values of love and family. This is the reality in which I grew up, but it does not imply that I don’t understand different ones. I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions.”

“We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it,” Gabbana said in a statement. “We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”

This particular debate is something I’ve become slightly obsessed with, as a trusted follower and coveter of Dolce & Gabbana and being an owner of several D&G items, I couldn’t believe that such comments would come from a brand who’s campaigns I have lusted over for so long.

Yet, my old love for the brand is not the only reason I feel such a connection and such outrage to this particular topic. Coming from a family of women who struggle to have children and with my own parents trying for 12 years before having any luck, IVF is not uncommon; it is classed as a life line and some people’s last chance of ever having the fulfilment of having their own children. My own Godson was born due to IVF and I can assure you that he is not synthetic, he is a miracle, as are all IVF babies.

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Dolce & Gabbana’s latest collection, entitled “Viva La Mamma” featured drawings by the children of the label’s team, pregnant model Bianca Balti, and other models with their own children. Essentially giving the impression that their label is built for families.

Although same-sex marriage and adoption has not yet been legalised in Italy, there is no excuse for such statements. As this statement is not only to do with to same sex parenting it is in essence, Stefano Gabbana stating that IVF children are not real and still expecting people to buy D&G products? If this is a publicity stunt, it’s a poor try.

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Looking into the brands past it is clear that Dolce & Gabbanna have had their fair share of controversy. As the debate surrounding this issue has only brought to light an image used in the brands Spring/Summer 2007 campaign. The advert was pulled shortly after its release. The picture shows a woman pined to the floor, with topless men surrounding her, simulating a ‘gang-bang’ for lesser words. So, this kind of portrayal is fine, yet IVF and same sex marriage and parenting are not?

The designer duo have also used images of gay men with children, promoting same sex parenting, suggesting that it is acceptable for them to support this way of life if it is selling their products but not in reality?

There is actually nothing right about Gabbana’s statement. It not only offends people but it completely underestimates the gruelling and costly process that millions of couples go through in order to have children. IVF is not an easy decision to make. These parents do everything within their power to have children. Is it their fault they cannot conceive naturally? If we were not meant to have developed to this level of scientific means then why were we blessed with such knowledge and the ability to create such an option?

There is nothing synthetic about the IVF process; the pain, both physical and emotional, the depression, the stress, the struggle, the longing, the wishes are all very real. As are all the years of hugs and kisses, bed time stories, school runs, home cooked meals, family days out and the love that these parents give their children.

It is clear that this isn’t just one man’s opinion or a homophobic issue, this is a human issue and it is in essence a matter of discrimination for the gay community, for the parents of IVF babies and all the children born of IVF.

So Dolce & Gabbana, care to tell us again how same sex parenting and little IVF miracles are synthetic?

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Vanessa Gainford
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