Was that a rather fine Hermes collection we just saw on a Milanese catwalk? No, it was D&G, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's lower-priced, lower-aiming and usually lower-cut secondary line of which, sadly, this was the final showing. Why sad? Because D&G has a special place in every fashion journalist's heart - a single theme, served straight-up with no muss or fuss to worry your pretty little head about. Today, they were the last big show before Prada - the Countdown Conundrum of Milan fashion week - and made their message as eye-socking, immediate and superficial as ever. I think there were a few damp eyes in the house.
But fear not, it would have taken much more than a damp eye to block out this D&G offering - even the radiation-shield sunglasses sported season in, season out by the Milan fashion fraternity did nothing to dent the vibrant, vibrating brightness of this collection, pattern whirled, swirled and clashed across models in multiple silk foulard-prints. yes I did drop the H-bomb up there - and it's probably a good job D&G is shutting up shop or they may have litigation on their hands from Paris' finest Selliers, so bountiful were the scarf-prints that house has made its signature. Then again, Hermes never had an issue with Gianni Versace smattering them across frocks, clocks and crockery.
There was a hint of vintage Versace at D&G, too. In fact, what with Prince screeching at ear-bleed levels and the colour pumped up to cornea-shattering intensity, it felt a little bit like one of Versace's early nineties ad campaigns sprung to life. The clothes, tightly-bound like bandannas or fluttering prettily in handkerchief hems, had a feel of that optimistic era, fabric occasionally shot through with lurex and gold jangling at neck and ear for an extra touch of razzmatazz. A few looks mashed denim together with the silk - an ormolu-print scarf backing a blue denim suit, for example, or a half-silk half-denim shirt tucked into a billowing baroque ball-skirt. if you crossed your eyes ever so slightly, you could almost see Linda Evangelista pawing covetously at a Medusa-studded gravy boat in that number. Scarf-prints have been doing the ironic rounds as flashy postmodern clubwear for a few seasons - even on the staid Milanese circuit - but, referential or not, these garments managed to feel new and, dare we say it, even a little exciting. Their energy was infectious: let's hope, with this line on the back-burner, Dolce and Gabbana can harness some of its verve and energy in their mainline.