Inside the Elton John-Dolce & Gabbana Feud

Designers and singer in war of words that has led to a boycott of the label.

March 18, 2015, 2:30 AM

— -- The feud between fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana and Elton John continues.

The designers are hitting back after John called for a boycott of the Dolce & Gabbana label after Dolce called babies conceived by alternative methods "synthetic babies."

"It's an authoritarian way of seeing the world: agree with me or, if you don’t, I'll attack you," Gabbana told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"I even posted the word 'Fascist!' on his Instagram," Gabbana said of John, who took offense as the father of two children born via IVF with his partner David Furnish.

Meanwhile, John's campaign seems to be gaining ground with several celebrities, who have joined the boycott.

The singer is no stranger to public feuds, having carried on a decade-long one with Madonna, which finally ended in 2013 with him sending a note of apology to the Material Girl.

His latest feud is just getting started. Here's a quick timeline:

Synthetic Children

It all started after the designers gave an interview to Italy's Panorama magazine published over the weekend. When asked about family and children, Dolce responded:

"We certainly didn’t invent the family. The Sacred Family made it an icon, but irrelevant of religion or social status: you are born and have a father and a mother. Or at least that is how it should be, that is why what I call children of chemistry, synthetic babies, do not convince me. Surrogate mothers (literal translation: rented uteruses), seeds chosen from a catalogue. And then go and explain to these children who their mothers are. Would you accept to be a child of chemistry? Procreation must be an act of love, nowadays even the psychiatrists are not ready to face the effects of these experiments."

When the pair, who were in a relationship for 20 years, were asked if they wanted to be fathers, Gabbana replied, "Yes, I would have a son immediately," while Dolce responded, "I am gay, I cannot have children. I don’t believe one can have everything in life, if it isn’t there it means that it cannot be. It is also nice to deprive oneself of something. Life has its natural course, there are things that cannot be changed. And one of these things is the family."

John Takes Offense

Dolce's statements drew immediate criticism, most notably from John.

"How dare you refer to my beautiful children as 'synthetic,'" John wrote on his Instagram Sunday, alongside a photo of the designers. "And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF - a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana"

Dolce and Gabbana Release Statement

By Monday, the designers had released a statement, clarifying the remarks.

"We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it," Gabbana wrote in a statement sent to ABC News. "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."

Dolce added, "I'm Sicilian and I grew up in a traditional family, made up of a mother, a father and children. I am very well aware of the fact that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I've known. But in my personal experience, family had a different configuration. That is the place where I learnt the values of love and family. This is the reality in which I grew up, but it does not imply that I don't understand different ones. I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people's choices and decisions."

Boycott Bandwagon

But by then, several celebrities had joined the boycott against the designer label, which is popular on red carpets and TV and movie screens.

Right on Elton and David D&G shirts are going in the bin- don't want ANYONE to wear them

— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) March 15, 2015

Designer Victoria Beckham even weighed in, expressing her support for John, who is the godfather to one of her sons.

Gabbana Gives Another Interview

As the boycott seemed to gain ground, Gabbana gave a follow-up interview Monday to Italy's Corriere della Sera, this time taking off the gloves.

"I didn’t expect this, coming from someone whom I considered, and I stress 'considered,' an intelligent person like Elton John," Gabbana told the newspaper. "I mean, you preach understanding, tolerance and then you attack others? Only because someone has a different opinion? Is this a democratic or enlightened way of thinking? This is ignorance, because he ignores the fact that others might have a different opinion and that theirs is as worthy of respect as his."

Gabbana also clarified his earlier remark to Panorama about wanting to be a father.

"Domenico said that he’d rather have a traditional family. It’s his opinion. He’s not comfortable with IVF. It’s all about his traditional Sicilian upbringing. I have a different opinion. We have mutual respect," he told the newspaper.

Asked whether he's worried the boycott will affect the label's sales, he replied with a smile, "Maybe we’ll lose some Elton John fans, maybe we’ll get some more mums. Who knows."

Meanwhile, John posted a photo of his sons, Zachary, 4, and Elijah, 2, on Instagram.

"Photo booth fun at yesterday's lunch. #ShareTheLove," John wrote Monday.