Fashion designer Stefano Gabbana has never been one for holding his tongue.
There were the comments on IVF and “synthetic babies” that enraged people. Then there was the time he got into an Instagram war with Miley Cyrus, presumably because his unapologetically extra label is about the only one to endorse First Lady Melania Trump.
At the time of his Insta war with Cyrus (also about the time D&G released T-shirts with the slogan ‘Boycott Dolce & Gabbana’ in response to a rather tepid outrage from the public about the brand’s support of Trump), Gabbana posted to Instagram.
“We are Italian and we don’t care about politics and mostly neither about the American one! We make dresses and if you think about doing politics with a post it’s simply ignorant. We don’t need your posts or comments so next time please ignore us!! #boycottdolcegabbana.”
It’s a view that he exerts once more in a recent interview with British Vogue.
“You don’t make any mistakes if you tell the truth. Any kind of truth is true,” Gabbana says. “I’m not American, I’m Italian. I really don’t care about American politics. You do what you want. I’m a designer! She’s a customer. She was before she became first lady. In the game of newspapers and TV, everything is business. If you make it interesting you can talk about it.”
And once again, people are talking about Gabbana. As The Cutnotes, he has failed to read the room (i.e. the piling up of stories of sexual harassment and power imbalances in the entertainment and fashion industries and a mood where women are finally being heard) once more.
In his Vogue interview, conversation came around to UK politician Mark Garnier who is currently embroiled in a sex toy scandal, and the slew of sexual harassment cases abounding in Hollywood and fashion at the moment.
“It’s not new! Luchino Visconti asked Helmut Berger and Alain Delon to go in the bed… But listen, you decide. It’s true. Everybody knows. After twenty years you say, ‘Ah! He touched my ass!’ It’s not violence, this,” Gabbana told Vogue’s Anders Christian Madsen.
“Who doesn’t do sex? Who doesn’t? It’s a trend. Now the trend is sex. But sex is an old story. We are Italian. We came from the Roman Empire. We know very well.”
While sex has always been an old story and a hot trend in fashion, that whole ‘just because sexual harassment happened in the Roman Empire means it’s totally fine now’ argument is rather an ornate (and sweeping) way of saying that ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘really what’s all the fuss about someone touching you on the bottom in the staff kitchen’? Women today with their PC views and their ugly clothes!
Tellingly, the rise of ‘ugly’ fashion is another bugbear for Gabbana in the article, “You see a woman in a T-shirt…” he says of fashion magazines today “F–k it, this is not fashion! ‘It’s cool.’ It’s cool? What is cool? It’s ugly. It’s just ugly. It’s just something to surprise someone, but who? No one. Fashion is enjoyment, it’s love, it’s happiness, enjoying to dress up to be beautiful and feel good.”
Which is a far more interesting point than shrugging off sexual harassment. Ugliness challenges us to see things differently, arguably it’s more interesting, but finding beauty in the world shouldn’t be discarded either.
But just as fashion continues to evolve and to tell us a story about the world we’re living in now, so too must the views of those creating it.
Fashion is about being first and leading the zeitgeist and capturing the moment. Anything less is a bit, well, gauche.
Or worse, old-fashioned.