Dolce & Gabbana on DGfattoincasa; handling the lockdown; and their next runway steps
Few fashion designers have had as much impact in the past three decades as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, aesthetically and commercially.
Their blend of steamy Sicilian chic and haute Italian cinematic style; their invention of innerwear as outerwear; their powerfully suggestive ad campaigns; their bravura tailoring; and their high-color opulent alta moda have combined to make them an immense force in contemporary fashion.
Resolutely independent, Dolce & Gabbana still do not list their show on the official Milan runway schedule, even though they always the biggest show of any Saturday for men, and on Sunday for women. Held before oodles of VIPs for the past 15 years inside their custom-made show space, built within the former Metropol cinema in central Milan.
The duo is currently mulling their next runway steps, with the haute couture seasons cancelled in Europe. However, they will likely participate in the unprecedented Milan Digital Fashion Week in mid-July, though like everywhere else in Italy the exact format is still being worked out.
Throughout their career, they have almost pointedly courted controversy, from their risqué ads to their controversial views, like suggesting children born thanks to IVF were “synthetic.”
Gutsy risk-takers, after building a huge business with their youth label D&G, they suddenly changed direction a decade ago, and launched Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda, creating a brilliant series of collections and shows, that rivalled, and even exceeded, anything seen on the Paris couture catwalks. Each winter, they stage their Alta Moda show in Milan, each July they take it on the road in Italy, with legendary displays in a Venetian palazzo; inner-city Naples street; on a private beach in Capri. Remarkably, despite closing down D&G in 2011, and focusing upmarket, their business continued to grow. The privately held house scored annual sales of €1.38 billion in the 12 months ending this March. Like everyone, they expect a tough 2020, recently telling Turin daily La Stampa that they expect to “lose a lot” this year due to coronavirus.
Like every important designer they have been in lockdown for the past two months. But their house has been busy; opening a new revamped store on Canton Road in Hong Kong; and launching a new ad campaign modelled by Sofia Vergara for the Devotion bag, whose proceeds will go to support Covid-19 research.
Their latest project – DGfattoincasa – meaning Made at Home, is a series of video shorts about Italian métiers de mode, or fashion artisanship, close to the hearts of Stefano and Domenico. It’s also a clever play on words on the Italian tradition of the workshop at home, where skilled artisans create rare handmade objects amid the warmth of family life. This month, Dolce & Gabbana have staged a series of digital workshops, inviting fans into appreciate the skills and techniques. While DGfattoincasa and a connected crow funding platform will help fund Fondazione Humanitas Per La Ricerca, a key research foundation. In a second wave, stars have joined DGfattoincasa, debuting with Helen Mirren, and with Monica Bellucci in the pipeline.
So, FashionNetwork.com caught up with the duo, who have been in lockdown Milan, for a discussion of their latest plans and thoughts.
FashionNetwork.com: Where are you now?
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce: We are at home like everyone, trying to keep the normal routine, otherwise it would be the end! We share this moment with the beloved ones and we talk everyday via Facetime. We spend days working, setting up home, cooking, reflecting a lot on what it’s happening. We try to be positive and not to be discouraged by daily counting of the pandemic. Sometimes we’d like not to read them…but we have to be always aware of what it’s happening in the world.
FNW: Why have you launched this new project now?
SG: We focused on the moment we’re living and on the place where we spend most of our time now: the home, that for us Italians is only one and it’s fundamental. We believe that its rediscovery as a value, a place to live, to share, but also as a space of work and creativity, will accompany us for long time. We thought that it would have been interesting to underline such an Italian way of thinking linked to our roots, to the Made in Italy and to the craftsmanship.
DD: We wanted to tell all this through video contents posted on our Instagram channel. So we asked to artisans, friends, singers, and collaborators to realize some videos with their phones creating a series of appointments making sure we could reach in an easy way all of our users.
SG: They can show what they want, it doesn’t matter what, it could be a cake; a crochet work; a painting; or a watercolor sketch; gardening or backing bread. The important thing is to do something, to gift a part of ourselves through creativity and the wish to tell a sentiment, an emotion, a nice story, in a moment like this one, in which we need to be strong, united, even if forced to be divided and locked in our houses.
SG&DD: Do you remember the old casa-bottega concept? Like a home and workshop together. When the magic of the hand-made merged with the warmth of the family. Here we’d like to recreate that emotion, that feeling of sharing which is part of us and of our DNA since always. Plus, we are even more proud and happy that the goal of the project is to continue the collaboration in the research to find a solution against the Covid-19 through a fundraiser for the Humanitas Foundation for Research also supported by Banca Intesa Sanpaolo.
FNW: How has all this pandemic affected your creativity?
DD: Creativity is part of our life. We have continued to work, to think of new solutions, to draw sketches…Surely we miss the human touch and the planning but we go on! The other day I was talking with Stefano and we started to review fabric samples of old leather collections and we started to fantasize about what we could do today. We also concentrated on social network, developing the #DGfattoincasa project. We found a way to stay “connected”, as they say today, with the closest customers and friends…Creativity is the most important part of our work.
FNW: How will fashion change after Covid-19?
DD: We believe that fashion will finally recover its times, that seasonality that has always characterized it. Then we will have the pleasure of buying a coat in December and a t-shirt in July! We sincerely can’t wait for this. The collections will certainly also be reduced: less but better then. We are in Italy, we have the Made in Italy which is synonymous throughout the world with quality and beauty and that does not mean only fashion but also history, food, culture and art.
SG: Fashion must reflect reality, keep up with the desires of people who today, understandably, are even more changeable. It is difficult to make long-term predictions; we will do what we deem most appropriate considering that people, at this moment, don’t have a great desire to buy and this must be respected.
FNW: Many people have talked about a reset button – do you think that is the case?
DD&SG: We don’t like the concept of a reset button. We have to accept the consequences of the things that we do. It’s wrong to delete what we did in the past. We, our fashion and our work are the result of our choices and our paths. Surely it’s right to reconsider ourselves, to understand what we can improve or just to do differently, but never to refuse the past.
FNW: What will we keep from this period and what will we discard?
SG: I don’t think we will forget anything about this period of our life. We have lived surreal months feeling always different and contrasting feelings. I felt scared, other times, even if it seems strange to say, I felt a new energy inside, the desire to start again, to get involved again, finding the enthusiasm of the first years of work, when it was me, Domenico and one work room. We are Italian, we are like this, we don’t hold back and we are not afraid of working harder and making sacrifices.
DD: …In 36 years of work we have gone through many things, we will overcome this too. I don’t think we can really discard something from this difficult moment. Things happen, the system changes, we ourselves change, we evolve. This is life, it is normal for it to happen. The important thing is to move forward, not to lose positivity and to remain united. In addition, just to reiterate the concept of handmade by yourself, doing it yourself, at this time when there are no alternatives, is such a satisfaction. This is why we say that this is the right key to get something good from these times.
FNW: When do you next expect to stage a runway show?
SG&DD: We hope as soon as possible. All of us in the fashion system - designers, buyers, journalists, we need it! Runway shows represent the dream of fashion, and no one has found an alternative to this yet. At the moment we adapt to the present, we continue to work and we learn to live a new reality still made of love for the beauty, for the authenticity, and for the Made in Italy that we have to defend at all costs.
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