The teen scene boys were front row attending to their quiffs; the girl bands were blond and bland, trying to look cool under their fringes. The music was playing and the clients uncrossed their vacation-bronzed legs.
“Tropico Italiano” read the message in lights at the end of the runway. Then suddenly, POW! A group of ordinary guys and girls leapt on to the runway: all scruffy jeans, baggy t-shirts and beat-up sneakers. But they looked like they didn’t give a fig about Brandon Thomas Lee and Dylan Jagger Lee, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s sons, who were seated front row. Nicole Richie’s little sister Sofia was hardly on their radar. Huiwen Zhang, the big Chinese movie star and model? Never heard of her.
All this happy gang wanted was to dance until they dropped – or at least until the Dolce & Gabbana show ended with the same “real” people dancing over the catwalk again. “It’s for fun, fun, fun!” said Stefano Gabbana as he grabbed me back stage for a twirl. “We brought them from Naples,” added the designer, referring to their Alta Moda or couture show presented there in July with his partner Domenico Dolce.
The Spring/Summer 2017 show continued to feel like one never-ending party. And so it was, as Stefano and Domenico hosted a repeat of their Naples night out in Milan’s Via Monte Napoleone to celebrate their collection and the newly-opened store. Their favoured clients were serenaded by grand opera and dined on long tables, touched with gilding, the silver candle holders competing with palm trees.
Just another night out for the dancing duo.
But what about the collection? Dolce & Gabbana sent out a strange statement:
“The starting point is no longer the outfit itself,” the announcement said. “It’s the desire to tell our story, reveal an emotion, a way of life. In this way, people no longer purchase a piece of clothing but a memory, a love, a special moment, a DNA.”
It went on: “Our DNA is in the South and all the symbols that represent it: flowers, pasta, bread, good luck charms, shells, fish, religious symbols, music, ice cream, drinks, dolls, biscuits, forks, spoons, pizza and Mandolin. All of this is love, is the #DGFamily.” Translation: “We have nothing much new to show you – but we want you to have a great time.”
And so it was, as jackets came out embroidered with “JAZZ” in sequins, taut tops partnered with thigh-hugging jeans and the prints embraced every cliché of southern Italy from hot-coloured roses to giant sunflowers, glossy tomatoes, fish, platters of spaghetti and melon shapes around the bosoms. What was not food-related was gilded enough to make a cathedral look under-dressed. And, of course, church interiors and religious images came into the mix. Among all that were classic Dolce & Gabbana, lacy, form-fitting black dresses and handbags that looked like musicians’ drums.
It was not really fresh enough for an entire new collection. But it was fun. And Domenico and Stefano, in this era of Instagram and Snapchat, know that making fashion visibly fun is a big part of successful brand management.