Dolce & Gabbana is one of those labels that goes its own way, regardless of whether the wider fashion trend cycle is flirting with the minimalist, volume-focused, gender-neutral or ultra-casual looks that are the complete opposite of what it stands for.
Not that this means the label stands outside of trends. Scratch the OTT surface and there’s usually plenty that’s tapping into the overall direction fashion is travelling in, as well as lots more that markets like bridal, occasion and even boardroom wear can pick up and run with.
So it was with the SS18 collection shown in Milan on Sunday (and on Saturday too, in a not-very-secret ‘secret show’ for all those people who spend the kind of money most of us only dream about with the brand).
The show may not have made quite the impact of last season’s effort when many of those private clients and their kids walked the runway, but there was enough typical Dolce & Gabbana excess this time to make it memorable.
At times the excess was, well, a bit excessive. Ridiculous even. Who really wants to attend a party with a pal of cards on their head or wearing a playing card dress that’s more fancy dress than red carpet? But hey, this is the catwalk so we have to be a little forgiving.
This label does like its seasonal themes and this time it was Queen of Hearts. At least this one didn’t turn up on too many pieces. In fact, in a less fantasy-driven offer, there were enough of the brand’s very commercial pieces to to keep Dolce & Gabbana fans happy.
Think the famous black wiggle dresses (in lace or sheers), the label’s sharp, close-cut suits, its simple shimmering dresses (short or full-length for relaxed parties as well as gala events) and its quirky prints, most of them much more wearable than giant playing cards.
Those prints are always big news for the brand given that its silhouettes really don’t move on that much each season. And on the print front, D&G doesn’t really do subtlety. It’s with Alessandro Michele on that one and comes down firmly on the maximalist side.
And prints there were a-plenty. The playing cards even worked well when kept as allover repeat prints rather than in-your-face giant placements. And the Queen of Hearts from the deck of cards also linked up with the label’s ongoing use of sacred Heart motifs.
There were exuberant florals too that were instantly commercial, zebras too and food prints that also had an offbeat appeal. Think soup cans, pastries, cabbages, peas in the pod and other assorted fruit and veg that actually felt quiet fresh and summery and added an edge to some really quite conservative gowns.
And the silhouette? Well, to be honest, that’s one place not to look for trends. The occasional nod to wider, heavily padded shoulders didn’t exactly see Dolce & Gabbana tapping into fashion Month’s big obsessions.
And that’s no surprise really. Dolce has a wide range of clients to keep happy from those who like to flash every bit of flesh they possibly can to Middle eastern customers looking for more ‘modest fashion. Hence the see-sawing from ultra short skirts, cleavage and body con to high necklines, long lengths and shapes that conceal rather than revealing curves.
Of course as with all the big labels, often what’s the most interesting on the runway is what’s the hardest to see, the shoes, bags and accessories. Aside from the usual giant gemstones jewellery, we got lace ankle and knee socks plus hosiery to match the collection’s prints. There were raffia-trimmed top handle bags, a knitted Queen of Hearts heart-shaped bag, circular or angular flat bags with chain handles and the ‘#DG’ logo on them, lo-fi mesh shoppers, or checked shoppers with fruit and veg embellishment.
The fantasy sunglasses (edged in daisy scalloping or raffia or shaped to form the initials D and G) looked interesting although not completely practical. But the footwear was strong from the jewelled knee-length gladiators, to chunky jewelled or printed heels, or glitter sock boots.
It was a huge collection (107 exits and not a single menswear look in there). But the design team won’t be resting on its heavily embellished laurels just yet. The brand decamps to Tokyo next month for its Alta Moda extravaganza (forget £2,000 dresses, this time it’ll be £50,000 dresses). What will we expect to see? More of the same probably – I confidently predict print, embellishment, and general opulence. After all, we’d be disappointed in Dolce & Gabbana did anything else.