We are living in a millennial world and Dolce & Gabbana have spent the last few seasons exploring just that, with Instagram-cast shows featuring demographically specific influencers and Euro-aristos aplenty. “Now it’s time to turn a new page,” said Domenico Dolce pre-show. “We’ve been exploring sportswear, the new attitude, and learning a lot. . . .”
“And one big thing we have learned,” interjected Gabbana, “is that what the new generation wants from us most is our classics. We saw it in all the fittings. The perfectly tailored suits, the tuxedos, the black lace, the silk print dresses—the things we made that excited us 30 years ago are exciting young customers today. They want to make these things that are our own, their own. Really, we don’t work in fashion. Our job is to use the collections to talk about our story, and what we talk about is style.”
Thus this season they embarked on a 144-look runway education program: a crammer-course, degree-level education in all things Dolce & Gabbana. This collection was called DNA Evolution, and its invitation, also posted online, was preshow homework: a video dedicated to classifying the elements that make up their brand. Made up of 10 categories, and a further 40 oppositions, these included “velvet vs. brocade,” “sacred vs. profane,” “erotic vs. Catholic,” and “pasta vs. tomato.”
On the runway remained a few members of D&G’s millennial diaspora; Cameron Dallas, Elias Becker (son of Boris), Wizkid, Nash Grier, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Maharaja Padmanabh Singh among them. But to widen the lens and set up the lesson were some influencers of a different vintage: Paul Coster, Adam Senn, and Evandro Soldati. Plus . . . Naomi! Marpessa! Monica Bellucci! Around these landmark fashion individuals were arranged an agency cast of proper model-models and a street-cast ensemble of families, friends, and couples. With the exception of last womenswear season’s bag-toting drones almost every runway trick the designers have ever pulled was reprised for this show.
To be truthful, there was way too much course work on this epic survey and reset of 34 years’ worth of house codes to digest in a single sitting. Between Dallas’s opening gilded jacket and crown and Campbell’s closing pin-striped suit and fedora came a multigenerational, multi-ethnic survey of three decades of shifting menswear through Dolce & Gabbana’s particular prism. Tailoring-wise, Adam Senn walked in a classic black suit alongside Adriana Cernanova similarly attired, while Marpessa wore a Sicilian workingman’s suit, reminiscent of her earliest campaigns for the brands in the ’80s, and Nam Joo Hyuk received a three-piecer that was as opulently baroque as the backdrop. Streetwear, meanwhile, was not reserved for the younger models: Coster—“We have been shooting with him since 25 years!” said Gabbana backstage—was dressed in a recent-vintage Dolce-style patched parka and jacquard baseball tracksuit over sneakers, while a group of four street-cast Milan nonnas wore a suite of tracksuits so loud they looked like a Dolce-attired Beastie Boys tribute act.
What else? A lot. There was street-Siciliana, hunks in trunks, the Scala’s ballet sensation Gioacchino Starace in a torn hybrid of tutu and basketball short, cannoli-print short tracksuits, fish-print linen beachwear, some really strong patched military utility pieces, a high-waist trouser shape with a double strap detail in camo or drill that looked new but may well have hailed from 20 years ago, and T-shirts featuring patched archival photographs of long gone Sicily by Giuseppe Leone.
This was an anti-demographically specific show—all, together, now—meant to reflect Dolce & Gabbana’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow. “Like in Il Gattopardo,” said Gabbana, “when Trancredi says, ‘For everything to stay the same, everything must change,’ ”
Why? Dolce added: “We are very lucky. There are not many designers left any more who own their own company. Most brands are all about the business, just about the business, and the real boss isn’t the designer, it’s the stock market. When you get into that game, things get very complicated. Nothing is done for the right reasons. But we still have the beautiful chance to express ourselves through our experience and to be curious about the future at the same time. We do it because we love it.”