So here we are in La Bella Italia: Bright sunshine and vivid colour on clothes swaying in the breeze and flowing over the body in lively patterns. It’s high summer in Portofino, with the sea swirling as giant boats master the ocean.
In your dreams. But this fake summer show – capturing so many displays of Dolce & Gabbana’s fantasy presentations to their private clients – is not a bad way of passing Covid time. As long as you accept that your chances of grabbing a dress made of hand-painted scarves don’t only depend on whether or not you can afford it. For it was probably sold hours ago, digitally, to someone online in Moscow or Singapore.
My first impression at this launch of the Italian Haute Couture season was of missing the super-rich couples who have always been part of the fun of this glam gathering of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s clients. Oh how I wish I could see these eager people, plonking down on a velvet chair a big, bold, must-have-cost-at-least-five-grand flashy handbag. And beside them the peacock males – although they have their own menswear collection, shown separately.
My first stop is usually the jewellery, good enough to eat as a pair of giant earrings makes fruity shapes in multi colours. The only time I missed out on studying the sparkle was the time when we all got on a boat at Lake Como and I was too seasick to study those jewels in depth – or cope with the sight of an American diva swaying on her super-high heels against the swell of the tide.
Now we were on terra firma – Domenico and Stefano’s huge fashion house in Milan, with its palazzo and galleries, all dressed up in high glamour to match the jewellery models wearing furry collars against bare skin. The jewels were in competition with the chandeliers – all of them. But there were also earrings composed of purple spinels held by emeralds, garnets, South Sea pearls and – But of course! – diamonds.
“It is the summer dream of the Italian dolce vita; deep in the heart of the Mediterranean, the glamour and timeless elegance of the most beautiful and iconic summer resorts in our country,” Stefano Gabbana said. “Our imagination took us to Portofino, to the Faraglioni of Capri, the enchanting Ancient Greek theatre of Taormina, and Palermo – so historic and with scents and flavours.”
The mouthwatering vision of the Italy of our dreams was echoed by Domenico Dolce, pointing out what he called “the roots of Italy, with its cities, traditions and stories of infinite beauty”.
“The new high jewellery collection is synonymous with colour, lively imagination and grandiose artisanship,” the designer continued, adding the importance of “flowers, fruit and folkloric symbols”.
Dream on. The designers, who sometimes lean towards pastiche, were relatively calm in this summer collection – once you had absorbed the swelling music, those big-and-bold jewels, and bared skin under the fluttering fabrics.
I asked “the boys”, as Stefano and Domenico are so often called, if the scent of the Far East was part of the show. They replied jointly, saying “There is no specious reference to China or Japan, but we worked on garments that traditionally belong to different cultures,” such as “kaftans, kimonos and pyjamas,” they explained. “They are easygoing, comfortable and conversational, with a sense of incredible lightness while remaining glamorous. And we believe that men as well as women look absolutely charming in them.”
In previous years, having enjoyed watching clients rushing out and fighting the competition to try on the outfits, I was intrigued to see how that might be achieved online. Moving from one grand room to another in the D&G headquarters, I was actually able to envisage the digital purchasing as the courteous staff held out for digital inspection clothes, accessories and jewels. No touching! How true that was.
But as a way of getting clothes to clients, the presentation seemed pretty smart. “We envisaged our clients in their boats under the starry sky that illuminated the nights of Positano or Capri – everyone elegantly dressed but relaxed-looking.”
Back home in London, I was wrapping a wool cardigan around my bare arms and thinking that the Italian summer dream seemed an ocean away.
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