John has two sons, Zachary and Elijah, with husband David Furnish. Both children were conceived via IVF with the aid of a surrogate mother. Domenico Dolce criticised both practices, claiming they amounted to: “Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.” They endorsed the idea of a traditional family with a heterosexual couple at its head: “You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be.”
Condemnation of Dolce and Gabbana’s views has spread like wildfire through the entertainment industry, with the likes of Courtney Love, Martina Navratilova and Ricky Martin backing Elton John’s boycott, culminating in Hollywood TV producer Ryan Murphy, of Glee and American Horror Story fame, lambasting the designers’ comments as “ugly”. He has declared not only that he will not wear Dolce & Gabbana himself but that he will not use their designs in any of his productions, urging other producers to adopt this stance. Victoria Beckham has taken Elton John’s side, despite now being a leading figure in the fashion world. With such strong opinions being expressed on hot-button issues, this feud looks set to run and run.
The two designers have since attempted to clarify their views, releasing statements. Dolce said that while he comes from a “traditional” family, “it does not imply that I don’t understand different ones.” Stefano Gabbana has said in a statement: “it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”
However, Gabbana has also now countered the criticism by creating the hashtag #boycotteltonjohn. This has received some support but it seems that Elton has the upper hand: the BBC is reporting that his boycott campaign hashtag had, at time of writing, featured in 30,000 tweets, dwarfing the competition from the designers whose hashtag had only racked up around 1,500 tweets. The modern family and its attendant technologies are certainly winning out so far; a ringing endorsement of the changing times. It is worth noting, however, that some of the hashtag users are calling for a boycott of the boycotts, a few of them in the name of ‘#FreeSpeech’.