April 18, 2024

Dolce & Gabbana spark internet frenzy over IVF

Gay icons war over “synthetic children”.

Dolce & Gabbana’s latest show celebrates maternity 

The marquee bioethics story of the week comes from the catwalks of Milan. In an interview in the Italian magazine Panorama, gay luxury fashion designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce attacked same-sex marriage, IVF and surrogacy. Twitter and Instagram instantly became incandescent with indignation over a few score of words by the billionaire designers.

Dolce and Gabbana lived as a couple for 20 years, but split up amicably in 2005, although they remain prodigiously successful business partners. When asked if they would like to be fathers, Dolce replied, “I’m gay, I cannot have children.” He added that he feels that “you are born to a mother and a father — or at least that’s how it should be. I call them children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.”

That’s not all. Dolce, 57, who has identified as a practicing Catholic, said:  “No chemical offspring and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.” Dolce then added: “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, 53, added: “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.” And Dolce chimed in: “Procreation must be an act of love; now even psychiatrists are having to deal with the effects of these experiments.”

The five or six throwaway sentences provoked a nuclear response, first from gay icon Elton John, who is the father of two children of a surrogate mother, and then from other celebrities and the media.

“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic’ [said Elton John on Instagram]. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF … Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

The Hollywood director Ryan Murphy tweeted that Dolce & Gabbana’s clothes are “as ugly as their hate.” And so on.

It’s hard to know what lessons to draw from this searching and incisive debate on assisted reproduction, except that the gay community is probably not as monolithic as the media portrays on issues like same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting, surrogacy and IVF. More conservative views, such as the Catholic position that procreation should be reserved for traditional marriage, still have street cred in unlikely places. 

Could it be a marketing ploy for two canny businessmen who want to cement their reputation for, surprisingly, a maternity-friendly fashion? Their latest show featured a number of stylishly pregnant models, along with children. 

The spat continues.

Creative commons
same-sex marriage
same-sex parenting