Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana took their audience from rainy Milan to sunny Sicily at yesterday's spring 2013 show. Wicker basket corsets, flour-sack minidresses and retro beachwear were served up to a soundtrack of Italian crooners with which the natives in the audience smiled and sang along.
Since they announced the closure of their D&G diffusion line just over a year ago, the duo has focused on opulent and luxurious clothing for an unapologetically high-end market, and held a debut haute couture show in Sicily last July.
The label also opened its newest boutique in Milan last week in the building that used to house the more affordable range. The designers now preside over an empire that consists not only of the current mainline mens and womenswear collections, handbags and accessories, but also now offers christening gowns and watches that cost hundreds of thousands, plus make-up and fragrance at slightly more accessible prices.
But the emphasis on workmanship as an investment was clear in lavish embroidery and embellishment – some pieces were encrusted with beading and even the naive deckchair-stripe cotton separates were knowingly embossed with a subtle brocade pattern. There was a sense of humour, as always, and a feel for the dramatic. The first look was a dress printed with red velvet curtains, opening to reveal the grinning puppets of Sicily's famed street theatres.
Models wore raffia and hessian-effect bustier dresses and the closing look – a wicker corset and farthingale draped with gossamer-light tulle – recalled cheery chianti baskets. Rather more stripped back was Consuelo Castiglione's collection earlier in the day at Marni. The designer contrasted clean and elegant minimalism with classic sophistication, giving a modern edge to pieces that clearly referenced traditional couture styles in sack-back coats, dropped shoulders and raglan sleeves.
Colours were characteristically challenging but the combinations worked, Castiglione at one point teaming burgundy with bubblegum pink.
Dresses and skirts were key, with dipped hems, streamlined, plain bibs, and volume at the back, a bustle effect that flared from high, directoire-style waistlines.
Family-run knitwear label Missoni was also on yesterday's schedule, and offered delicate and gauzy trapeze dresses worn over clinging layers of their trademark weaves.