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Some say beauty is simple. But others contend it’s complicated. Can it be both?
To enter into the sensuous curves of a Dolce & Gabbana design is to experience a complicated kind of beauty, like exploring the majestic landscape of Sicily with its Baroque towns, monasteries, quiet roads, rich soil flourishing with orange and lemon plantations, its white sand beaches.
The iconic couture house literally portrays Sicilian Baroque through expressive, sexy clothes that have the energy and imagination of the south of Italy, where the architecture takes the most complex forms — a style that even “baroqued” the Baroque, adding extra elaborate ornamentation to facades of buildings.
Co-founders Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana enter their office in Milan in the company of their two Labradors, one black and one chocolate. They instantly create a friendly and playful atmosphere.
I reached the famed Italian design duo at their office, a dense, voluptuously furnished living room the pair uses for meetings. Deep burgundy and gold decorate the walls, with assorted large paintings all over. One in particular catches my eye because it resembles the composition of the “Madonna del Cardellino” by Raphael. But this bizarre version is by the pop artist Giuseppe Veneziano who depicted a peculiar Madonna with the head of the entertainment star Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. At her feet, two babies are frolicking, but not a little Jesus with little St. John the Baptist, as portrayed in Raphael’s masterpiece. Instead, the kids here have the heads of Stefano and Domenico.
The iconic duo met in 1980 in Milan when both were working as assistants for designer Giorgio Correggiari. Domenico Dolce, 58, the son of a tailor, is Sicilian, while Stefano Gabbana, the son of a factory worker, was born in Milan 54 years ago. They became Dolce & Gabbana in 1982.
The Milanese fashion house had brought back the bustier, corsetry and black lace, reveling in carefully calibrated erotic innuendo. But Messrs Dolce and Gabbana define their strong and sexy style as “classic.”
“We try to be an evolving tradition. We work always starting from a classical aesthetic,” they say.
Dolce & Gabbana counts almost 250 boutiques around the world, 18 of which are in the US where the market is certainly a dynamic market of great importance both for them and the entire fashion industry.
Your Fall 2016 collection is a compendium of princess fairy-tale fantasies. You asserted that women are princesses. What do you mean?
DD: Today’s woman is a princess who yearns for love but also wants more independence and autonomy. Our new collection is a blast of contrast. There is constant affirmation and negation (for example, glittering jackets designed with a structure cinched at the waist, fibrous yet light fabrics) and opposites do in fact attract. For this fall we made oversized jackets, deconstructed coats, slim volumes, big volumes. Imagination, absolute creativity and new handcrafted working processes are dominant. Every collections involves and implies a lot of research.”
SG: New princesses are today’s girls. Constantly changing their look, they creatively experiment with fashion during the day and also the evening. Fashion makes women dream — this is the service fashion gives.”
Your high couture credo is summed up in the 3S motto: “Sicily, Sartorial, Sensual.” Is that the secret of your success?
DD: “The three ‘S’ motto that you describe is a summary of what we are and what we feel. Sicily is in our DNA and represents all the heart and passion we put in everything we do, especially in terms of work. Sicily was our very first dream and love that we translated into a modern all-embracing aesthetic. Sartorial is the art that nurtures our clothes and the meticulousness regarding our way of working. Sensuality is also part of our fashion house’s genetic code and our vision on life. The secret of our success is in the investigation and celebration of our roots, our passion for the Italian culture: the warmth, hospitality, importance of family, food and ritual, which lend integrity to our aesthetic. It is a fact that we are inspired by Italian women. They remain our muses, with their passionate sensuality: strong working women and maternal figures. Sophia Loren from the past and Monica Bellucci nowadays, represent Italian femininity.”
SG: “Sicily is a land of most ancient cultures and certainly a source of constant inspiration. Greeks, Arabs and Normans have all contributed to the charm of this magnificent island that maintains its DNA despite the passing of time. We consider our collections this way as well: as a continuous evolution, a laboratory of ideas without forgetting our roots.”
It can be a dress, a lipstick, a liquid foundation or a purse. Lots of celebrities, from Beyoncé to Scarlett Johansson, from Monica Bellucci to Madonna or Kylie Minogue, love to wear Dolce & Gabbana. But how do you manage to fascinate common women around the world?
DD: “We always liked the idea of dressing women from all over the world but maintain our ideal woman and man when we design our collections. Italian beauty is always on our minds.”