MILAN — Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s views on “traditional families” continued to generate a social media backlash Monday, as well as headlines in Italy and internationally.

Sir Elton John’s angry and offended comments on Sunday and his call for a boycott of the Dolce & Gabbana brand quickly spread, drawing a slew of followers including Sharon Stone, Courtney Love, Ricky Martin and Martina Navratilova.

This story first appeared in the March 17, 2015 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Sending love to Elton David Zachary Elijah & all the beautiful IVF babies,” tweeted Victoria Beckham, in support of John, his husband David Furnish, and their two children Zachary and Elijah.

Donatella Versace, a longstanding friend of John’s, said, “Respecting the opinion of others, I believe sexuality does not define a person, it is their integrity, loyalty and the love they can give.”

The designer concluded that “whoever is able to offer true love to a child should have the possibility to give it, be it by adoption, or IVF. I know many children born this way and they are happy children because they are wanted and loved.”
The designers’ comments on what they view as “traditional families,” comprising a father and a mother—were made last week in an interview to “Panorama.” Dolce had said that he was “not convinced” by children he called “of chemistry, synthetic. Uteri for rent, seeds chosen from a catalogue.”

“We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it,” Gabbana said on Instagram on Monday. “We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”

In an interview in Monday’s Corriere della Sera, Gabbana claimed “Domenico simply expressed his opinion on assisted reproduction. Others choose differently? They are free to do so. But we demand the same respect.”

Gabbana noted he “did not expect” John’s comments on Instagam, from someone, he said, “I believed—and I underscore believed—to be intelligent. How can that be? You preach tolerance and then you attack? Only because someone else thinks differently from you? […] He is ignorant in the sense that he ignores that there are ways of thinking different from his and that are equally deserving of respect.”

On Instagram, Gabbana had labeled John as a “fascist,” launching a #boycotteltonjohn campaign. However, on Corriere, the designer downplayed the boycott, blaming “a group of gay activists in bad faith […]” for creating an online campaign. “We are not boycotting anyone and never will.”

Asked if he believed John’s boycott will have any effect on sales, Gabbana responded: “Maybe we will lose some Elton John fan, maybe we will gain some moms, who knows…,” hinting at the brand’s fall show—an ode to the Italian “Mamma.”

When contacted about the D&G boycott, a spokeswoman at Procter & Gamble, the brand’s beauty licensee, said the company does not comment or speculate on the business of its partners.

However, she did say: “P&G’s belief in diversity as a business imperative results in our support of a wide range of people, cultures, beliefs and perspectives. This support is intended to be inclusive and broad, reflecting the diversity of our employees and the consumers we serve. It applies to all, recognizing that we all have individual perspectives and beliefs. We firmly believe that a culture where everyone is treated with respect enables performance at its best. As a latest example of this belief in diversity, P&G recently signed onto a brief with the United States Supreme Court supporting marriage equality.”

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