Few designers have more of a joyous sense of regional pride than Dolce and Gabbana. For S/S the dynamic duo whisked us off to their native Sicily for a tour through all the traditional crafts and customs of their hometown, echoing their similarly provincial menswear showing. They called this collection ‘Sea, sun and love’, and with a title like that how could things go wrong?
In many ways this was business as usual for the pair. Italian pride is almost as signature to their collections as their now iconic Sophia Loren hourglass silhouette. For S/S the nod to Sicily came through an exploration of ‘handmade’ techniques. Colourful prints depicted the famous puppets of Sicilian street theatres and Caltagirone head-shaped ceramic vases and dishes, while dresses came decorated in straw, raffia crochet and coral embroidery. Accessories added to the cheery, rural vibe. Every model sported a printed silk foulard knotted around her head alongside a gigantic pair of puppet-inspired earrings. Dolce fan or not, you couldn’t deny that they looked adorable. At points the quaint artisan vibe veered into the theatrical, such as with raffia dresses that channelled native potato sacks thanks to large ‘Sicily’ slogans. But who can blame Stefano and Domenico for wanting to have a little fun?
Critics will dismiss this collection as samey. And while the Italian inspiration didn’t stray far from the expected, closer inspection proved that there was plenty of fresh material on offer. Silhouettes in particular had taken on a fresh form, veering away from the figure hugging boob-enhancing looks which has made the house so popular with voluptuous cougars the world over. Instead this season the duo jumped on the A-line bandwagon that has been steaming through Milan. Shapes were trapeze like, particular evident in the gorgeous striped pieces, inspired by beach umbrellas, which flared from the waist. The combination of this fresh cut, and a decision to champion flats – the majority of models came out in sweet sandals or mini kitten heel - made the collection have a playful, almost girlish vibe – a strong departure from the decorated seductresses that had previously ruled their runway.
The duo rounded off their looks with their unique version of the couture wedding gown, in this case a theatrical midollino crinoline, inspired by classic Sicilian baskets, which elicited loud gasps of joy from the audience. This was pure, ridiculous fun - and why not? Isn’t the beauty of Dolce and Gabbana their ability to cheer us all up with their special brand of ‘Viva Italia’ jollity? Their final hurrah, always an extravagant affair, saw all eighty-six of their sweet Sicilian signorinas troupe onto the runway – accompanied by the booming sounds of Domenico Modugno singing Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu – clad in patterned swimwear as if off for a mass dip. Who wouldn’t want to join them? What a jolly end to a joyous show - pure homegrown fun for D&G, and pure escapism for the rest of us. What a fabulous mix.