A pile-up of peonies at the top of the catwalk, projections of rambling English country cottage roses, and a packet of seeds stapled to every invite. No prizes for guessing the theme of the D&G show for S/S 2011. Then again, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana offered us knit-wrapped snow bunnies for A/W, so this is a wholly logical progression.
Credit where credit's due, Dolce and Gabbana know how to run with a theme - and the whole remit of the D&G line is to take a simple idea and run with it. Save the complexity for the mainline, make the diffusion clear and simple. It was certainly that, with brightly printed separates comprising the whole collection, save a few exits of flowery lace in pastel hues. On top of the chintz was piled table-cloth checks and polka-dots, the idea of an english picnic in the countryside, coloured in bright primaries. It also picked up on the seventies vibe, albeit vaguely - wide-legged flares and bubbly hot-pant romper suits marched out atop tottering platform espadrilles. To close, a parade of chiffon frocks, ruffled at the hem and simply tied at the waist, in a bouquet of foliate prints that made one think of Bill Gibb and Ossie Clark in their flower-child heydays.
All a colourful diversionary tactic, but as a theme for a S/S collection florals are hardly revolutionary. Or even evolutionary. Dolce and Gabbana are a Milan powerhouse, with their presence felt everywhere. Arguably they have taken over from Armani and Versace as the leading Italian fashion empire, with ever-expanding lines of accessories, fragrance and make-up to match. With that kind of power and influence, it doesn't seem too much to hope for something slightly more thought-provoking and thought out, even from their secondary label.