Dolce e Gabbana's current fashion passion is the Sicilian woman - she's been there for their whole career, pretty much, but she's come back to centre stage over the past year. Maybe it's one of those much-vaunted brand 'return to roots' or 'rediscovery of DNA,' but it now feels as if she's forefront in Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's mind. Of course, she's a fictional composite - think of her as a movie starlet, and the Dolce e Gabbana collections as her latest flick, each one outfitting her for a different storyline. Last spring it was a cinematic romp a La Dolce Vita, for winter something more redolent of gritty Neo-Realism. For S/S 2011, it's a straightforward romance, and D&G are outfitting the blushing bride.
For next season, it's all gone white for Dolce e Gabbana. Well, okay, that's not entirely true - there were a half-dozen black outfits in lace and tightly-tailored wool, a bit of chintz-meets-Chinoiserie floral and a splash of signature leopard. But even these patterns looked sun-bleached, more often than not veiled or banded in white lace. And white lace was the big, big story, sliced into multiple shapes and myriad permutations: long, short, full, narrow, bra-tops, pencil-skirts, baby-dolls and trailing floor-length negligees. If it all looked a bit white wedding night, that was precisely the intention: Dolce e Gabbana's watchword this season was trousseau, a fine excuse for another outing of their favourite underwear-as-outerwear. Forties girdles and long-line bras in stretch satin were joined into short bodysuits tightly hugging curves, sometimes veiled in transparent silk chiffon dotted with lace, sometimes proudly sent out alone.
If the gypsy blouse has emerged as a micro-Milanese trend, a way to make sense (and money) out of the stripped-back styles that have been flooding from the catwalks, Dolce e Gabbana managed to reinterpret that peasant feel with more panache than most. But the garments themselves took us nowhere new: they were classic Dolce e Gabbana, albeit on very best behaviour. That restraint and slightly forced simplicity felt a little frustrated, and frustrating - you longed for them to unleash their wild imaginations and unfettered razzmatazz. That said, their girl still piles on the clattering gold jewellery and high-heeled clogs even when she's going for the poverino look, and you couldn't beat the final few maximalist exists, crusting that lace with inch-thick diamante mesh into glittering showgirl gowns. They have been sorely missed on Milanese catwalks this season - next time, it would be great to have them once more, with feeling.