Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana put a new spin on couture culture in the Land of the Rising Sun.
At a closed-door press conference on the 37 floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana preached passionately about being ambassadors of Italian culture. From Sicily to th Palermo, Napoli to Rome, they have been building their namesake brand by drawing inspiration from Italy’s “La Dolce Vita” spirit. “Fashion as cultural exchange,” said Dolce. He then went on to talk about the philosophy of the Alta Moda collection, while Gabbana explained why the brand was holding yet another Alta Moda showing in Japan—the previous one, held last April, was their first visit to Japan after nearly 30 years. But, so much has changed since then.
For a start, the House’s cosmetic arm has changed hands and is now under Shiseido, the Japanese beauty giant. This move will benefit the Italian House in growing its makeup and skincare lines, following in the success of Dolce&Gabbana’s fragrance selections, which have become household names (who can forget the famous Light Blue campaign of a virile David Gandy lying on a boat in Capri?).
This exciting development is part of the sea change that the House (which generates a billion Euros revenue annually) has experienced lately. For a few seasons, Dolce and Gabbana toyed with having social media stars walk their ready-to-wear shows in Milan. While fashion scribes and critics panned the move, millennials lapped it up: The shows have had an unprecedented impact on social media, with 35,000 views off one Instagram clip alone. These series of stunts led to the brand’s “Secret Show”, first held in September during Milan Fashion Week spring/summer 2018 and the second held just a few days prior to the Alta Moda show in Japan.
Naturally, this “Secret Show” was a hot topic at the press conference. Taking place on the shop floor of Tokyo’s busiest Isetan, the show was a crowd-pleasing act. Gabbana, the one out of the two with an Instagram account, explained the genesis of the show. “The young generation is lost [when] finding the meaning of luxury,” he declared before reminiscing their start in fashion. “We started in ’84. We started because we love fashion. Back then, if you didn’t have the money, you could still wear the style. Today, everything is only about marketing strategy. Marketing breeds mediocrity and mediocrity is a state of mind,” he said with characteristic candidness. “I’d rather people stick with our style than just selling bags.”
And boy, what a style Dolce and Gabbana have built over the years. Their distinctive blend of sex and sass with a tinge of nostalgia has made them a favourite amongst the stars. Namechecking Sophia Loren and Madonna as some of their absolute favourites, Gabbana lamented that today’s celebrities are not like how they used to be. When questioned on his opinion on Insta-fame girls and the Kardashian phenomenon, he scoffed, “No Kardashians, please.”
This “purist” perspective—as in pure glamour and pure fashion, in Dolce&Gabbana’s vernacular—was on full display during the Alta Moda show at the Italian ambassador’s official residence in Tokyo. Underlined by the House’s pursuit for ultimate glamour and divine beauty, Dolce and Gabbana brought pomp and pageantry to the breathtaking venue. The lush Japanesestyle garden and pond played backdrop to pre-show Proseccos for the fully Dolce&Gabbana-decked attendees. Bright light bathed the inner sanctum of the Shogun-style architecture, where more than 100 looks from the Alta Moda and Alta Sartoria collections, the male equivalent of women’s couture, were paraded.
Floral was the recurring theme of the day. It came out as embroideries, prints and patterns on silk, chiffon and lace, as well as dramatic headpieces. Hundreds of yards of organza and organdie formed Disney-worthy ball gowns that had the crowd swooning. Dresses topped with double cashmere coats or wool and tweed jackets trimmed with the softest of fur added decadence to Sartoria’s exotic skin ensembles. The Alta Gioielleria jewellery followed suit: Enamelled rubies, sapphires and emeralds served as gems for butterfly, cherry and rose rings and necklaces.
Amidst all the opulence, Dolce whittled things down to this: “Fashion should not only be about making money. We started fashion because we love fashion and nowadays, people don’t work for love anymore.” Clearly this duo still does; and if the exquisite Alta Moda show is anything to go by, it’s that sometimes, love is all that matters.
Dolce&Gabbana’s Alta Moda show in Tokyo
By Windy Aulia