The settings for Dolce & Gabbana's A/W 18 show strongly resembled a nightclub. There are plenty of nightclubs with shiny black surfaces and chandeliers bathed in blue light in Milan, and all over Italy. In fact, there are thousands of clubs like this all over the world, and they promise luxury, indulgence, exclusivity. Those are the same promises that drive the brand’s admirers, and those are the pleasures in which guest of the show got to partake.
If you’re invited to a party at Dolce & Gabbana’s, you have to know it’s not an ordinary one. For A/W 18, the designers cast big new era celebrities as models, among them internet stars Cameron Dallas (over 20 million followers on Instagram) and Juanpa Zurita (over 14 million followers on Instagram) and American singer and songwriter Austin Mahone (over 10 million followers on Instagram). For the show’s finale, Columbian pop star Maluma (over 30 million followers on Instagram) performed live in an ultra-sparkly silver suit. This is the big numbers game, and at stake is the exposure among global millennials and generation Z - the race for the young consumer shared by nearly all of the major fashion houses today.
The title of the collection, 'King’s Angels', tapped into the dream of otherworldly radiant beauty - a strategy long deployed by the likes of Victoria’s Secret. The kids on the runway looked radiant indeed, mostly because of their youth, but also because of abundant sequins and gemstones, shiny embellishments and gold - Dolce & Gabbana classics. Perhaps it would be more natural to see them dressed in hyped streetwear, like Supreme or Off-White, rather than tight-fitting tailoring patterned like lush wallpaper. For that reason, sweatshirts with cherubs and oversized fur coats looked more suitable for today’s state of fashion. Generation Z gets their tailoring from Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy — but they might as well pick up an odd over-the-top statement piece from Dolce & Gabbana too.
The wall at the end of the runway was decorated with plaster cherubs, not unlike the ones from Renaissance paintings in museums all over Italy. Fashion has been truly obsessed with Baroque and Renaissance recently, but this obsession could go in very different ways. It could be a strong reference for a cutting-edge contemporary look - like Virgil Abloh putting a Caravaggio painting on a Pyrex23 sweatshirt, or 032c taking over Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence for their debut show. But it could also be plain escapism into cheap thrills, not a museum but a luxury club.
Today, fashion is going through a new era of maximalism, where everything goes, where there is no right and wrong, and bad taste (or skilful imitations of bad taste) make good fashion. The contemporary version of maximalism and flamboyance is largely defined by the powerhouse of Alessandro Michele at Gucci, who got us all dreaming about monogrammed belts and bags again. Could Dolce & Gabbana do the same trick? More fitting question is, do they need to? Dolce & Gabbana is not for the fashion critics - it’s for the masses, for the red carpets, for that grand old-school aspiration of wealth and luxury people still go to fashion for. Music’s blasting, the party’s on - for now at least.