"I am scandalised. Creators should have nothing to do with Islamic fashion," the 85-year-old told French radio station Europe 1 yesterday, reports The Guardian. "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 went on to say that the only reason that labels - which include Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo and Dolce & Gabbana - create such collections is "to make dough and nothing else", and he would tell them to: "Give up the dough. Have convictions. Defend your convictions." The French businessman - who founded Yves Saint Laurent alongside the eponymous designer, who was also his life partner - stressed that his comments are not Islamaphobic. "I live in Morocco most of the time, I am really not Islamophobic," he said.
His comments come as Laurence Rossignol, France's women's rights minister, criticised Marks & Spencer's full-body swimsuit, suggesting that the British retailer is "bowing to religious conservatives," according to The Daily Telegraph.
"What's at stake is social control over women's bodies," she told RMC radio. "When brands invest in this Islamic garment market, they are shirking their responsibilities and are promoting women's bodies being locked up. It is irresponsible on the part of these brands. All those who participate in how society is represented have a responsibility."
Marks & Spencer responded to the comments, saying that it "provides a wide range of quality swimwear", and that it has sold the full-body swimsuit "for a number of years and it is popular with our customers internationally".