In advance of upcoming runway shows in London, Milan and Paris, the Human Rights Campaign -- the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization -- has issued an open letter to members of the fashion industry urging the boycott of a hotel company linked to the sultan of Brunei in response to changing penal codes in the sultanate.
Addressed to "fashion industry leaders," today's public letter reads, in part:
"This Sunday marks the beginning of a series of menswear and haute couture fashion weeks in cities across Europe. As you gather in London, Milan and Paris over the next two months, you have a number of options in choosing where to stay and socialize with your colleagues and friends.
It's our sincere hope that as you plan your own travel arrangements and schedules, you make an informed choice and avoid the Sultan of Brunei's Dorchester Collection hotels.
As you probably know, the Sultan recently began to implement a series of draconian penal code reforms that could lead to the repression, persecution, and even execution of women and LGBT people in his country. These new laws have sparked an international backlash against the Sultan of Brunei. The Human Rights Campaign, as well as other prominent civil rights organizations and leaders in business, entertainment, and philanthropy have widely condemned these reforms. The fashion industry has been on the forefront of these efforts, and it has been both vocal and unanimous in expressing its opposition to these horrific laws."
The Dorchester Collection is owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, an arm of the Brunei government that manages the oil-rich country's luxury hotels in Europe and the U.S., and the letter notes that two of those properties in particular – Le Meurice in Paris and Hotel Principe di Savoia have been "very popular locations during fashion weeks in previous years."
The letter closes with the following:
"The simple truth is that profits from these hotels belong to a regime that could start stoning women and LGBT people as soon as next year. It's our hope that if you're traveling to any of the fashion shows in Europe over the next two months, please send a message to the Sultan and take your business elsewhere."
Although it hasn't made headlines lately, fashion industry boycotts of the sultan's hotels have been urged at least since mid-April, when designer Brian Atwood suggested, via a post to his Instagram account, that members of the fashion flock avoid Dorchester Collection properties during upcoming fashion weeks in June and October. That led to an April 26 protest outside the Beverly Hills Hotel, one of the Dorchester Collection's two local properties, and the cancellation of several high-profile Hollywood events there.
The European spring and summer 2015 men's ready-to-wear shows are set to kick off in London from June 15-17, move to Milan (June 21-24) and finish in Paris (June 25-29). That round of shows is followed by the haute couture shows in Paris from July 6-11.