Sunday afternoon in Milan hosted Dolce & Gabbana’s spring/summer 2018 show. But this wasn’t the first show for the brand during the city’s fashion week – it was the third.
A pop-up show happened at the city’s La Rinascente department store on Thursday and at 10pm on Saturday night there was a “secret show” for its wealthy clientele. The cast included socialites and celebrity offspring, such as Kitty Spencer, Ella Richards and Christian Combs, the son of Sean Combs. The collection consisted of eveningwear designs including floor-length tulle dresses, lacy gowns and brightly coloured suiting. It demanded the lifestyle – and the budget – of the 1%. The rest of the world could enjoy watching it on Instagram.
Sunday’s collection, meanwhile, was called Queen of Hearts and featured a backdrop of giant playing cards. It was based partly on the Italian resorts that those with a yacht would be familiar with – Portofino and the like – and partly on the brand’s heritage.
The duo have been the purveyors of clothes to seduce since the brand was founded in 1985. Thirteen black corset outfits – of the kind worn by Madonna and Linda Evangelista in the 90s – opened the show. They were followed by designs more from the school of fashion wit – ballgowns covered in cabbages, shoes with Andy Warhol-like soup cans for heels, sunglasses worthy of Timmy Mallett.
Across 106 looks, food was a theme – but these were clothes for women who like to wear their biscuits rather than eat them. The finale underlined the heritage message. All the models re-entered the catwalk wearing corsets and Beyoncé-like big briefs. Appropriately, the singer’s 2003 hit Crazy in Love was playing.
Before the show, Stefano Gabbana said they had decided to go back to the roots of the brand because it was now relevant for a new generation. “All the new girls ask: ‘Why don’t you do corsets again?’” he said. “But we play with everything … We need to go forward. The embellishment and everything is a fashion. Black is a style.”
The constant dripfeed of new, ever more glamorous, shows from Dolce & Gabbana means the brand is an almost constant presence on fashionable Instagram feeds. This serves as a distraction from controversies such as dressing Melania Trump earlier this year, which saw Twitter users call for consumers to boycott the brand. The most recent financial year saw revenues of around £1.15bn.
The Marni show earlier in the day saw Francesco Risso’s second womenswear collection for the brand, following the departure of the founder, Consuelo Castiglioni, in 2016.
The 33-year-old’s first – after only three months at Marni – was met with mixed reviews. This collection was an infinite mix of styles, colours, prints and textures. The first few models wore short dresses made from panels of heavy satin in poster paint colours, with beading on the front, over long skirts. Ivanka Trump-favoured mismatched earrings were the norm.
The silhouettes would conventionally be worn close-fitting, but these were worn two sizes too big. An arty awkwardness – a quality that Marni could claim as intellectual property – prevailed. Sometimes this worked – as with the pastel tulle slip-style dresses with sparkling beads or the longline plaid polo shirts and cargo pants.
Other looks – a floral mac worn over a floral camisole and checked midiskirt, for example – strayed a bit too close to bait for street style photographers outside fashion shows to be seen as relevant to most women’s lives.
Backstage, Risso, who was wearing a necklace made of what appeared to be cracker toys and string, said the collection was inspired partly by a doodle he did of a “20s woman on a skateboard”. He called the collection a treasure hunt. “You have to imagine this archaeologist diving into a trunk full of objects,” he said.