Fashion houses all over the world have begun to diversify their customer base by catering to more and more people of different beliefs. The likes of Dolce & Gabbana, Marks & Spencer, H&M, and Uniqlo all have lines catering to female shoppers in the Muslim world.
But Pierre Bergé — a French businessman and co-founder of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent is having none of it.
“I am scandalized,” the 85-year-old mogul told French radio station Europe 1 recently. “Creators should have nothing to do with Islamic fashion. Designers are there to make women more beautiful, to give them their freedom, not to collaborate with this dictatorship, which imposes this abominable thing by which we hide women and make them live a hidden life. These creators who are taking part in the enslavement of women should ask themselves some questions.”
Bergé continued by saying that brands marketing such collections are only in it for the profit and should “renounce the money and have some principles.” He emphasized that he has nothing against Islam, adding, “I live in Morocco most of the time, I am really not Islamophobic.”
Bergé’s statement hasn’t gone unchallenged.
British writer Shelina Janmohamed had this to say in a column for the Telegraph,“The claim that Muslim women can’t make independent, carefully considered choices of their own (including determining their own fashion sense) is terribly insulting and reduces us to children. Poor Muslim women. And women of colour who face similar condescension and must be ‘saved’ from themselves. To claim that any woman can’t think for herself and must be helped to know what’s good for her is infantilization on steroids, and is a perfect example of the very attitude that feminists have been attempting to dismantle for centuries.”