Milan Fashion Week has just seen the launch of what is widely seen as the first made-in-Italy burkini, after a summer scandal in which the modest swimwear was banned in some resorts in France.
Italian Olympic champion Federica Pellegrini presented the new burkini which was designed by Raffaela D’Angelo, an Italian fashion designer who has been creating swimming costumes for more than 25 years. The burkini is a three-part outfit consisting of a leggings, jacket and a cap. The outfit comes in two different styles, white and colorful.
“I want to dress all women” said D’Angelo in an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “Religion has nothing to do with it. I am Catholic and I consider my decision (to design burkinis) as a sign of openness. Those creating swimming costumes can’t ignore changes and can’t discriminate a part of women’s world.” D’Angelo added, labeling the ban on burkinis in some French towns as “exaggerated and intolerant.”
Around 30 French coastal resorts and towns banned the burkini over the summer of 2016, a move which allowed police to stop and fine women wearing the outfit.
A Nice tribunal rejected an appeal by two human rights groups, ruling that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet – the first resort to enforce the ban - was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadists attacks in France, including one in Nice on July 14.
The burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach,” and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community, it added.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls also weighed in on the debate, lashing the wearing of the burkini as “not compatible with the values of France and the Republic” and saying he supported mayors who ban it if they acted in the public good.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is expected to challenge Françoise Hollande for the presidency next year, declared that if elected, he would immediately ban the burkini. Marine Le Pen, the president of France’s anti-immigration National Right party, urged that the ban to be immediately adopted nationally.
Opinions polls suggested most French people backed the ban. According to an Ifop survey held in August for French newspaper Le Figaro, 64 percent of the French public supported the ban and that another 30 percent had no opinion.
Italy has been following this debate very closely, showing a different position and approach towards the burkini.
According to a Corriere della Sera survey published in August, 54 percent of Italians believe that wearing a burkini is just a clothing choice with nothing against European values. Also, Italian Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano has distanced himself from France Prime Minister Valls’s position on the burkini ban, saying that the Italian “constitution is very clear and it gives freedom of worship,” adding that Italy will not introduce the same ban.
D’Angelo’s made-in-Italy burkini seems to be another step forward in a more tolerant and open approach toward this swimsuit after international organizations slammed the move and France’s Supreme Court overturned the ban on the grounds it contravenes civil liberties.
Despite this, mayors of the French towns in question remain defiant that the ban will be enforced on the ground.