MORE and more, Western fashion companies are catering to female shoppers in the Muslim world.
Dolce & Gabbana now makes four-digit hijabs and abayas. On the wallet-friendly front, Uniqlo recently launched a line of “modest” apparel in collaboration with UK-based Muslim blogger Hana Tajima. British retail mecca Marks & Spencer has even rolled out a “burkini.”
But Pierre Bergé — the French businessman and longtime life and business partner of the late, great Yves Saint Laurent — is having none of it.
“I am scandalised,” the 85-year-old mogul told French radio station Europe 1 on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.
“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.”
He went on: “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 (for the record, Saint Laurent sells a $US2000 costume tiara) and should “renounce the money and have some principles.”
He claims he has nothing against Islam, adding, “I live in Morocco most of the time, I am really not Islamophobic.”
That’s like suggesting you can’t be homophobic if you live in Sydney or New York, but we won’t quibble.
The larger issue is Bergé’s evident bias against non-Western notions of beauty and freedom, which echo equally questionable viewpoints buttressed by France’s women’s rights minister Laurence Rossignol.
Speaking to RMC radio this week, Rossignol likened Muslim women who elect to dress conservatively as “Negroes who support slavery.”
Writer Shelina Janmohamed, whose memoir Love in a Headscarf describes her life as a British Muslim woman, wrote this response 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,” she wrote.
“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 infantilisation on steroids, and is a perfect example of the very attitude that feminists have been attempting to dismantle for centuries.”