Dolce & Gabbana back in focus with gilded camp and Nineties energy

 

Milan

Sunday’s Marni show, opening the penultimate day of the Milanese shows, was paraded in silence. That wasn’t an intellectual exercise in focus: the power was out, or as the Italian press aides described it: “We have a technical disease.”

There has been something of a technical disease in Milan lately, brands rushing to interact with the internet to sell their wares and broadcast their shows. It’s a rush that sometimes became a scrabble, and often stank of desperation, with the fashion coming second to the live-stream. But this season everything seems to have quietened down. Brands aren’t trumpeting their digital doodads. They’re getting on with the business of making clothes, and most of them seem to be doing very good jobs of it.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are designers who, previously, have been distracted by all that technology, with shows broadcasting backstage antics above the heads of the waiting audience. But they’ve shied away, and put their focus back into the garments. The inspiration for Spring/Summer 2014 was Sicily, again – the invite a picture-postcard of picturesque ruins in the vein of Baron Von Gloeden. You do sometimes wish the boys could branch out more, or at least take their August vacation a little farther afield.

It’s churlish to curl your lip, though, as this season was Dolce&Gabbana on fine form: a mind-boggling barrage of texture and shape, billowing chiffon adorned with Capodimonte-style appliqué flowers or lithographs of more picturesque ruins, alpaca worn like beastly pelts in surreal shades of pea-soup green and blood-red, and gold lace dresses at the end to really gild the lily.

The designers cited Federico Fellini as an inspiration, and there was something of his excess, the baroque fantasy of his Satyricon here. There was also a bit of Fellini’s unintentional campery: giant gold medallions, belts and dresses studded with suspiciously glitzy “antique” coins and shoes with curlicued Ionic columns veered into Carry On territory, while liberal sprinklings of sequins ended up less Caesar than Caesar’s Palace.

Thankfully, Domenico and Stefano also latched onto Fellini’s lasciviousness – albeit subtly, reflected in those signature bombastic Dolce frocks, the best hugging to below the knee with bra straps on show. That took us right back to the early 1990s, when the pair were the young upstarts of an Italian fashion industry at the peak of its influence. This show managed to re-capture some of that old energy.

That’s been the mood of the Milan collections as a whole: buoyant, re-energised, and fun. Saturday night’s Moschino show, celebrating the house’s 30th anniversary, was celebratory verging on Bacchanalian, opening with Eighties catwalk superstars Pat Cleveland and Violetta Sanchez and closing with Gloria Gaynor (yes, her) belting out disco classics. In between was creative director Rosella Jardini’s latest collection, a continuation of the grand Moschino tradition of luxurious parody, wit and humour. Franco Moschino, the labels’s late founder, would be grinning ear to ear.

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