From walking countless runway shows for New York Fashion Week to covering Vogue, Ashley Graham has become famous for bringing body positivity into the mainstream. She’s always been frank and open with her fans about her body image struggles, while also proving that curves deserve a place on magazine covers and catwalks.
So when she walked for Dolce & Gabbana’s latest runway show, a brand that’s made countless controversial statements from fat shaming to racism, I was puzzled. As one of the “wokest” and most body-positive public figures around, why would Graham decide to walk for a brand that seemingly goes against her ethics?
This was a major deal because although the show was in New York City, you rarely see curvier bodies walking the runway for European designers, especially the high-end lines. Graham rules New York Fashion Week, and has even walked in her own runway show for her collaboration with Addition Elle, but she isn’t frequently found on the European catwalks.
Unfortunately, it’s disappointing to see the body-positive movement progress with a brand that has made some pretty startling comments about the plus-size community.
In 2015, the designers faced tons of criticism from the LGBTQ+ community after telling Panorama Magazine they “oppose gay adoption” and criticized IVF pregnancies, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
What’s odd is that the designers themselves are gay, but made these comments that are damaging to the LGBTQ+ community. Even Elton John clapped back on Instagram, stating in part of his caption, “Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”
Domenico Dolce eventually apologized, telling Vogue, “I’ve done some soul-searching…I’ve realized that my words were inappropriate, and I apologize.”
Gabbana also posted an apology on Instagram, saying, “We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it. We talked about our way of seeking reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”
That doesn’t mean the designers haven’t said other questionable things, including a racist comment about who would design their brand in the future. In 2018, Dolce told Corriere della Sera, “Once we’re dead, we’re dead. I don’t want a Japanese designer to start designing Dolce & Gabbana,” according to The Telegraph.