With the shake of a tambourine and the upbeat notes of an Italian folk band, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana kicked off their collection for S/S 2013. If last season was all about trussed up indulgence this season was decidedly about getting back to basics. The duo returned to their roots – well Dolce’s roots at least – by bringing Sicily to the catwalk.
Their take on the region translated into traditional rustic workwear, the kind of modest tailoring, hand-me-down patterned shirts and well-worn leather satchels and brogues that provincial Italian men turn to every day. Waiters, fishermen - see the stripes inspired by Sicilian beaches such as Taormina, Cefalu and Mondello – and craftsman all appeared on that catwalk, each with toil-ready rolled-up sleeves and sun bronzed skin. There were vintage undertones to many of the pieces - especially the 1940s style pleated shorts and peg-leg trouser – adding to the pastoral tone of the collection. Imagery also had a retro feel, most obviously on t-shirts printed with images of Sicily, resembling those kind of generic faded scenic photographs that hang on the walls of cafes across Europe.
The duo had put just as much thought into the models as they had the clothes, hand selecting Sicilian natives to walk their runway. Men and boys of all ages – from little lads in tiny shorts to seasoned gentlemen in suits - were chosen, giving the collection the sense of being a family affair (Italian familia is after all one of Dolce and Gabanna’s favourite points of reference). The models walked the catwalk in a somewhat chaotic manner – matching the frantic beat of the band – at different speeds, sometimes overlapping each other. It felt like being in a busy Italian restaurant – grandfather, father, uncle and son all rushing around hard at work.
Milan fashion week always comes back to issues of masculinity – with different designers spending just as much time offering up new visions of what men can be as churning out new clothing. Dolce and Gabbana’s ideal will be hard to beat – down-to-earth, honest Italian family men, with a couple of topless muscular beef-cakes thrown in to keep the audience happy. If you’re keen to boost sales then what better option is there than championing your home turf?
All in all, this collection seemed very apt. Last season’s pomp and ceremony drew some scorn from critics who dubbed the fanciful items on show mere escapism in the face of the financial woes facing the label. This season’s passion for simplicity and nostalgic national pride seems more appropriate – a humble reminder of the fact that deep down the duo are just sweet little Italian boys. Bellisimo!