Tuesday 16 January 2018

Another boycott? All jokes aside, maybe Dolce and Gabanna should just stick to fashion and leave politics out of it

Defiant: Raury staged a protest at Dolce & Gabbana’s spring-summer 2018 show
Defiant: Raury staged a protest at Dolce & Gabbana’s spring-summer 2018 show
D&G t-shirt
Melania Trump

Meadhbh McGrath

#BoycottD&G? Not again! What have those rascals done this time? Well, it turns out this call to action was issued by the legendary designers themselves.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are no strangers to controversy - in 2015, they drew the ire of Elton John after they described children born to same-sex couples via IVF as "synthetic". It resulted in an organised effort to boycott the brand that stretched out of the Twittersphere and into real-life with protests outside stores. But they quickly walked back their comments, released a line of handbags featuring gay couples with children, and it was back to business as usual.

Not so this time - Dolce and Gabbana are doubling down on the outrage, which in this case concerns that silent, beautiful FLOTUS, Melania Trump. A woman who says so little, yet regularly inspires frenzied vocal outbursts from all and sundry. And no one has stood up for the First Lady quite so voraciously as Dolce and Gabbana.

Melania has long been a fan of the Italian luxury brand, but once her husband assumed office, the fashion world turned a laser focus on what and who she was wearing. As numerous designers (including Marc Jacobs and Tom Ford) very publicly refused to dress her, Melania's wardrobe choices became suddenly politicised.

She has been loyal to Dolce & Gabbana, choosing their designs for her official White House portrait and her meeting with the Pope, along with a show-stopping $51,000 coat by the brand, decorated with silk flowers, at the G-7 summit in Sicily (right).

Social media users called for a #boycott (the overlap between the critics and the brand's customer base is unclear, but let's not speculate), to which Gabbana, the more forthright of the two, allegedly responded by instructing unhappy followers to "vai a cagare", or, "go to hell". Indeed!

Outside of the tangled web of a celebrity's Instagram comments section, it makes sense that D&G would support Melania - she's a perfect fit for the brand's signature glamour and unapologetic luxury - but their unabashed support of her has been amped up in recent days.

Last week, the designers trolled Melania critics by teasing the release of a tongue-in-cheek 'Boycott D&G' t-shirt on Instagram (left), along with a video clip of a mock protest. Dolce explained: "It's irony! A joke! People use heavy words very easily these days. There is too much aggression."

The t-shirt (which retails at $245, naturally) was formally unveiled at Men's Fashion Week in Milan on Saturday. Over the past few seasons, D&G have opted for millennial-centric catwalk shows, populated by 'influencers' with sizable social media followings, and the spring-summer 2018 presentation was no exception - among the models were Cindy Crawford's son, Made in Chelsea's Spencer Matthews and Braison Cyrus, brother of Miley (more on her later).

When the brand tapped musician Raury for the show, they got a little more than they bargained for: mid-catwalk strut, he whipped off his hoodie to reveal 'PROTEST' and 'I'M NOT YOUR SCAPEGOAT' scrawled across his bare chest, his fist defiantly raised. The Atlanta-based singer later said he felt the designers' "millennial campaign" was a deliberate attempt to "use the youth to wash their hands of any sort of heat from anyone who wants to protest against them".

The moment got a bit lost in coverage of the show amid all the high-octane spectacle (and didn't start trending on social media until Raury explained his anti-Trump stance in interviews), but he raises a valid point.

It might seem surprising that two openly gay men are aligning themselves with the ultra-conservative Trumps, but in their eyes, this is all just a bit of apolitical fun. For Dolce, Gabbana and their elite customer base willing to spend $245 on a t-shirt, Trump's politics are unlikely to have much of an impact on their day-to-day lives, so they can poke fun at Melania critics while remaining comfortably detached from any real world politics.

Gabbana said as much in a retort to Miley Cyrus, who simultaneously congratulated her brother on his catwalk debut and criticised D&G's politics in a bizarre Instagram post. Gabbana replied: "We are Italian and we don't care about politics and mostly neither about the American one (sic). We make dresses and if you think about doing politics with a post, it's simply ignorant."

In any case, their intensely millennial-focused campaigning is bewildering. The pair are clearly vehemently opposed to political correctness and anything they see as an infringement on freedom of speech, so why target a generation famed for its sensitivity, tolerance and 'PC culture'?

They may have intended this as one great big provocative joke, but they've found themselves in a right mess. Might be best to just stick to what they know and forget the political commentary.

Irish Independent

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