I feel like I’m on the precipice of designing a theory about over-50 fashion designers and how they’re good at giving interviews. Karl Lagerfeld – who recently turned 84 years old – is the current king of brilliantly uncomfortable interviews. He’s shocking and funny and terrible, all at once. It’s felt for years now that Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are trying to take a page out of the Lagerfeld book, at least when it comes to media management. The problem with them is that they say awful, shocking and weird things and then when people are outraged, Dolce & Gabbana freak out a little bit and then act like people are “hating” on them. Lagerfeld just owns his sh-t and rarely apologizes or plays the victim.
In 2015, there was a movement to boycott Dolce & Gabbana because of the designers’ comments on IVF and artificial insemination. The designers called babies born of those methods “synthetic” and mocked the very idea of gay couples raising children. They eventually apologized, but first we had to go through weeks of bullsh-t. Then they played the victim when people criticized them for dressing Melania Trump. It’s all rather inane. Anyway, Dolce & Gabbana are currently in residence in London, where they have taken up a temporary ateliers in the city, and they plan on doing some runway shows in London, and launching a Christmas capsule collection for Harrods. As such, British Vogue decided to do a lengthy interview with them. Gabbana did most of the talking, per usual. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:
Dolce on millennials: “People talk about millennials like they’re the worst generation. You need to respect and talk to these guys; ask them why they’re representing a big change in the world. These people found love; they found friends. Friends are not just a ‘like’ – you know, a follower – friends are love. And people need love and attention. I think the millennials are another life. They have different values than us. They want a good world because they’re so angry that we’ve given them the worst world: climatico, politica, decadenza… everything.”
Gabbana on dressing Melania Trump: “You don’t make any mistakes if you tell the truth. Any kind of truth is true. 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.”
Gabbana on sexual harassment: “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. 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.”
Gabbana on political correctness: “Every generation does the same thing, but in a different way. We act against our families. I wore ripped jeans and my mother…” he stops, mimicking maternal shock and horror. “For me, political correctness is fake, because you don’t have the power to explain what you really think. With respect to everyone, I am not Mussolini. I am not God. It’s just my opinion. But I love when people say exactly what they think. If you don’t agree with another person, you still have the freedom to say what you think.”
The fashion industry has lost its identity, according to Gabbana: “Everyone worked with the right energy [in the 1970s]. After, they changed jobs and it became about business – the stock, the bank – and the fashion completely lost its identity… There are no longer any real fashion designers. It’s all about business and marketing. Mr Saint Laurent died a long time ago. Christian Dior, too. It’s a dead collection for me. There are no longer designers with a personal story. This is dangerous. The big company takes a new designer and puts them over an old label. They think it’s a clever strategy, but it’s not. Because by doing so, you take away from the people the time to grow by yourself and who you are.”
To say the least, Gabbana has some bad takes. I think what he’s saying about sexual harassment is that it’s nothing new, that people have been harassed and harassers for a very long time, and that’s why we shouldn’t talk about it now? It’s pretty awful to think about what he’s really saying, about that and about “political correctness.” Maybe the thing that will truly never go out of style is “dudes with enormous privilege whining about political correctness and how things used to be a lot better when they marginalized people would just stay marginalized and STFU.”
Now, all that being said… he’s not wrong about hiring young designers to take over the old fashion houses. Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy… these fashion houses have lost their way because of the revolving door of new designers with limited vision.
Photos courtesy of WENN.