In 2006, Stefano Gabbana asked a female friend to carry his child via artificial insemination, saying, ‘My dream is to have a baby.’
But in a new interview published this month, the fashion stars dismissed children born via IVF as ‘synthetic babies’, sparking a row with Sir Elton John and leading campaigners to accuse them of ‘double standards’.
Anger: Designers Stefano Gabbana, left, and Domenico Dolce, right, have caused a row with their comments on IVF children.
Elton John and David Furnish are ‘daddy’ and ‘papa’ to their boys.
Mr Gabbana told an Italian newspaper in 2006, shortly after he split up with Domenico Dolce: ‘My dream is to have a baby, not to adopt one because I am not up to it and I don’t feel strong enough.
‘I want my own child, a biological child, the fruit of my sperm, conceived through artificial insemination because it wouldn’t make sense for me to make love to a woman I don’t love.
‘A week ago I asked a dear friend of mine, who is twelve years younger than me, if she would help. I asked her, “Would you like to be the mother of my child?” She was left a bit shocked and the following day telephoned and said she was still shocked, but thought it was a great idea.
The previous year, Dolce and Gabbana were pictured together on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Italian edition surrounded by young children, with the headline: ‘The desire to become parents’.
In that interview, Mr Dolce said that he wanted an ‘entire football team’ of children, but added: ‘In life I have had everything it is possible to have but I have the small handicap of being gay so having a child is not possible for me. I could adopt or get one from abroad but I’m paralysed by the fear that the child could feel exploited.’
But in their latest interview the pair were scathing about non-traditional families, provoking the ire of Sir Elton.
Interview: The pair made their inflammatory remarks for an article in an Italian magazine this month
Mr Dolce told Italian magazine Panorama that procreation ‘should be an act of love’, adding: ‘You are born and you have a father and mother. At least it should be like that. That’s why I’m not convinced by what I call chemical children, synthetic babies.
‘They are wombs for hire, semen chosen from a catalogue. And then you have to explain to these children who their mother is.’
Asked whether he wanted to be a father, Mr Dolce said: ‘I am gay. I cannot have a child. I don’t believe that you can have everything in life.’ Mr Gabbana said, ‘I would have a child right away,’ but added: ‘The family is not a fad. It is a supernatural sense of belonging.’
Mr Dolce continued: ‘The only family is a traditional one. No chemical offspring and rented uterus – life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.’
Sir Elton, who has two children with his husband David Furnish, yesterday posted a picture of the designers on photo sharing website Instagram writing: ‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic”.
‘And shame on you for wagging your judgmental 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.’
‘How dare you': Sir Elton posted a photo of design duo Dolce & Gabbana on his Instagram page and responded to their comments in a strongly-worded attack
Hitting back: Stefano Gabbana asked, ‘Who wants to see him dressed in Dolce & Gabbana?’
Veteran equality campaigner Peter Tatchell is now planning a protest outside the designers’ flagship store in central London on Thursday after accusing the pair of ‘double standards’ for their views.
He told MailOnline today: ‘It is hypocritical for Stefano Gabanna to oppose gay parents, given that in 2006 he expressed a desire to have a child via artificial insemination and surrogacy. He’s guilty of double standards. Gabanna wanted what he now condemns other gay men for wanting.
‘These comments are not only an attack on same-sex parents but on all parents who’ve had children with the aid of fertility treatment.
‘Dolce and Gabanna are echoing ill-informed, outdated and homophobic prejudices about gay parents. Research spanning 40 years shows that children brought up by gay parents are just as happy and well-adjusted as those from traditional heterosexual families.
‘Dolce and Gabanna are entitled to their views but we are entitled to protest against them. We urge everyone – gay and straight – to boycott their clothes. It’s intolerable for these designers to make millions out of the gay community and then turn around and insult our families. They’ve stabbed us in the back.’
‘How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic”.
‘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’
Primary school teacher Kathryn Bold, 32, who had a son using IVF after she and her husband tried for five years to conceive naturally, said it was a ‘a bit hypocritical’ of the designers to speak out against procedures they had considered using themselves.
‘I was really offended,’ Mrs Bold, from Wigan, told MailOnline. ‘We’ve been through so much to have a baby – for someone to say that he’s a synthetic baby is really upsetting. He’s perfect, he’s no different to anyone else.
‘They can’t come out with a statement saying IVF babies are synthetic then try and get that treatment themselves. It’s a bit hypocritical really.’
Yesterday, the row escalated as Mr Gabbana posted a picture of Sir Elton on Instagram and wrote: ‘Who wants to see him dressed in Dolce & Gabbana?’
He also shared an image of a mother and child, writing: ‘We live in a democratic country and respect for the ideas of others is essential.’
Dr Gillian Lockwood of the Midland Fertility Centre said she was ‘speechless’ at the Italians’ comments. She said: ‘If there’s anything more “synthetic” than Dolce and Gabbana I don’t know what it is.’
The sister of Louise Brown, the world’s first ‘test tube baby’, called their views ‘shocking’. Natalie Brown, 32, said: ‘They are small minded, pathetic little people.’
Yesterday equality group Stonewall also said it ‘strongly disputed’ the comments. Chief executive Ruth Hunt said: ‘Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation or whether a child has two mums or two dads. The important thing is a loving family, whatever its make-up.’
A string of prominent celebrities lined up to condemn the pair, many drawing on their own experiences as the parents of children born via IVF.
Ricky Martin, the gay singer whose twin sons were carried by a surrogate mother, wrote on Twitter: ‘Your voices are too powerful to be spreading too much hate. Wake up, it’s 2015. Love yourself guys.’
Ryan Murphy, the creator of TV show Glee, added: ‘These designers’ horrifying views are never in fashion. Their clothes are as ugly as their hate.’
Former tennis star Martina Navratilova, who married her female partner in December, wrote in support: ‘Wow – I had no idea. It will be interesting to see if this ridiculousness hurts them in the bank.’
Stars unite for Elton John and David Furnish’s Oscar party
Other parents whose children were born using IVF expressed fury at the suggestion that their families were unnatural.
British actress Alice Evans, who has two children with her husband Ioan Gruffudd, posted a photograph of her daughters Ella and Elsie with the message: ‘I’m sorry you feel the way you do. Here are my much loved synthetic kids.’
Susan Seenan of Infertility Network UK, which supports parents who are struggling to conceive and campaigns for access to fertility treatments, said that the comments were ‘totally out of touch with the majority’.
She told MailOnline: ‘Children born via IVF are amongst the most loved and wanted children, and suggesting that they are “synthetic” is not only cruel and hurtful, but shows a lack of understanding around this whole issue.’
But others supported the designers, with one Instagram user writing on Sir Elton’s account: ‘They just expressed their opinion.’
Mr Gabbana said in a statement last night: ‘We believe firmly in democracy and we think freedom of expression is essential for that.’
Mr Dolce added that his views were informed by his Roman Catholic upbringing in a traditional Sicilian family ‘made up of a mother, a father and children.’
He continued: ‘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.’
Sir Elton married long-term partner David Furnish in December. Their sons Zachary and Elijah are four and two.
The singer’s previous spats include one with Madonna, whom he called a ‘fairground stripper’.
The billionaire fashion duo with an A-list clientele who were a couple for 23 years
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana came from modest backgrounds to become two of the richest men in Italy.
Dolce, 56, was born near Palermo, Sicily, where his father was a tailor and his mother worked in a shop selling fabric and clothes.
He met Gabbana, 52 – who was born in Milan to a factory worker father and laundress mother – in a club in the early 1980s.
Dolce helped his friend find a job with him working for designer Giorgio Correggiari, and their friendship blossomed into a relationship.
They moved in together in 1983 and founded Dolce & Gabbana fashion house in 1985. Their big break then came in 1993 when Madonna signed them to design costumes for her Girlie tour – including her famous black beaded bra.
The pair ended their relationship after more than 20 years in 2005, admitting they had ‘been drifting apart for five years’.
But they remained business partners, with Gabbana describing his friend as ‘my family’ after the break-up.
They revealed in a 2010 interview that they lived in identical apartments one floor above the other in the same building in Milan.
They also own luxury homes in France and London, as well as hosting lavish parties on their yacht in Monaco.
In 2013 the businessmen joined Bloomberg’s prestigious Billionaires’ Index, with Dolce’s net worth estimated at $2.2billion (£1.5billion) and Gabbana’s at around $2.1billion.
They were also acquitted of tax evasion by Italy’s highest court in October last year, which overruled decisions by two lower courts to hand them a 20-month suspended sentence for failing to pay tax on around 200million euros (£142million).
They were accused of funnelling funds through a firm in Luxembourg, but following their acquittal issued a statement saying: ‘We have always been honest.’
Their brand remains a celebrity favourite and has been worn by A-listers including Kylie Minogue, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.
CELEBRITY SAME-SEX COUPLES WITH CHILDREN VIA SURROGACY AND IVF
Sir Elton John and David Furnish
Sir Elton John and his husband David Furnish had two sons together, Zachary, four, and Elijah, two, with the help of a surrogate and artificial insemination.
They were both born to the same surrogate mother, but David Furnish has been named as the mother on the birth certificates of both children.
The couple have decided not reveal the name of their newborn’s biological mother.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
The How I Met your Mother actor and his partner David Burtka have four-year-old fraternal twins – Gideon Scott, a boy, and Harper Grace, a girl.
The process involved two embryos, one for each of them – and a surrogate who Burtka said was ‘more like the oven.’
Both men knew the surrogate, but the egg donor – who they found through a donation bank and thus were able to research her personal and medical history – was anonymous. Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris and his partner have both said they have ‘no interest’ in learning which twin is their biological child.
Matt Bomer and Simon Halls
White Collar actor Matt Bomer and his partner Simon Halls have three son, including a set of twins, all born via a surrogate mother.
The actor Bomer publicly acknowledged that he was gay, in 2012 when he thanked Simon Halls and their children during his Steve Chase Humanitarian Award’s acceptance speech.
The singer has six-year-old twins Matteo and Valentino and he has revealed that he would love to have a little girl.
After his sons were born in 2008 via a surrogate he opened up about his sexuality.
He split in January last year from his longtime partner Carlos Gonzalez Abella.
Tom Ford and Richard Buckley
Fashion designer Tom Ford has a two-year-old son Alexander with his long-term partner Richard Buckley.
The baby is believed to have been born via a surrogate and the designer has affectionately described him as a ‘genius’.
The couple met when Ford was just 25 and Mr Buckley, the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Hommes International, was 38.
Mary Portas and Melanie Rickey
Queen of Shops star Mary Portas revealed last month that the genetic father of her young son Horatio is in fact her brother.
Miss Portas and her civil partner Melanie Rickey had previously kept their sperm donor’s identity anonymous.
Miss Rickey, 42, gave birth to the couple’s first child in 2012 following IVF treatment. They had desperately wanted Miss Portas, 54, to also have a genetic link to their child.
Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni
The couple split in 2003 and since then she has dated education activist Christine Marinoni.
Ms Marinoni have birth to the couple’s son Max in 2011, but they kept tight-lipped about the identity of the biological father.