At first glance, these handbags emblazoned with images of same-sex, multi-racial families struck me as a brilliant fashion statement of inclusion and equality.
It then dawned on me that the image was posted on Instagram this week by Stefano Gabbana, one half of D&G. The brand who, in an interview with Panorama magazine in March 2015, stated “We oppose gay adoptions” and “The only family is the traditional one”. After a backlash and calls to boycott the brand by celebrities such as Elton John and Courtney Love, Stefano later defended his comments in an interview with CNN as his “freedom to speak” and that “this is just [his] point of private view”… Not very private when you’re airing your harmful views in an interview read by hundreds of thousands of people and causing a backlash from lesbian and gay celebrities for the world to view.
The handbags were launched as part of D&G’s Family Project which is based on Stafano’s ideals of the ‘traditional family’ and Sicilian culture. The project’s catwalks and magazine spreads have projected images of young, thin, attractive female models posing as biological mothers to their offspring. The fundamental ideal promoted by the project’s campaigns is that of heterosexuality, whiteness and the biological generations of one Sicilian family.
D&G’s ideals are quite obvious with a quick scan over the DGFamily Project’s adverts; the traditional family is paramount, with no space for homosexuality, gay adoption or any other deviation from tradition. The handbags, insultingly embellished with images of same-sex couples and adopted children, seem starkly out of place for a campaign unwaveringly founded on the traditional family. More so with the fact that prior to the backlash, D&G had not included any image representing homosexuality.
After the backlash of their views against gay adoption, it seems that they appropriated the diversity trend. The bags are unfitting to the ideals consistently promoted by the brand. The debate was raised by myself (HollyCC__x) on the Instagram post, see Stefano’s (@StefanoGabbana) response below:
Stefano did not offer any helpful comments or justifications (to his brand, or to critical onlookers) for releasing the out-of-place handbags as part of his Family campaign. Further, his obvious ignorance of the context and placement of the handbags emphasise just how poorly thought out the move is. The brand have failed to maintain any responsibility for their offensive comments and it appears that they will continue to do so.
The handbags, initially appearing as a revolutionary statement within a currently restrictive fashion culture, put into context are actually a perfect example of trend-spotting dependent on social attitudes. The masses have retaliated and the hegemonic fashion leaders have made a botched move for acceptance.
ProjectFEM‘s aim is to create a revolutionary, inclusive and empowering fashion brand that promotes pieces that make unapologetic social statements. Out of the shameful context of D&G, we would champion these handbags. However, we must not waver from our principles and responsibility to be conscious and critical within the mainstream fashion system.
We would love to hear your thoughts, leave us a comment!
Written by Holly C