Most brands aim to get big. Not Dolce & Gabbana. After building up their mega-massive globally spanning sartorial empire (everyone on the planet and their mothers knows you spell "G-A-B-B-A-N-A"), Milan's premier dynamic duo are now doing the opposite, making their brand and their business littler and littler, pulling back from globalisation and most likely setting a precedent for others to do so. Luxury fashion was exclusive when they began, then the pendulum swung, and now, it seems, it's creeping back once again. First they scrapped D&G, then they launched their first couture collection with a tiny, intimate show in their native Sicily in the midst of the baking heat this summer. And now, for their Spring 2013 ready to wear, they continue in the vein with which they churned out their menswear collection back in June, upping the ante in terms of technique and holding steadfast in their return to their Sicilian roots. The cacti and assorted island verge suspended from balconies and lining the stucco-backed runway virtually constituting the same setup as we saw for the boys this summer, sadly, minus the folk band.
Where for menswear, they gave us a village, for womenswear, they sent us a sartorial postcard from said village.They delivered a troop of beautifully cut A-line, mid-calf dresses in wide, seaside stripes with pinwheel sleeves (the highlight, for me personally), charming map, fresco and stain glass window prints screened onto flippant and full skirted dresses paired with colourful woven flats (yes that's right-flats at Dolce & Gabbana!) whilst woven raffia sack dresses complete with frayed hems were stamped 'Sicilia' in case anyone was missing the mark. Some girls tottered enormous wedges carved with floral motifs like you'd expect to find crumbling in a sunny villa somewhere or peeked out from beneath quirky raffia conical hats. A few looks were a bit heavy-handed in their accruing of embellishment, which could include pom poms to fringing to prints, head scarves, enormous fortune-teller earrings and more, but nonetheless, they glossed the narrative with the charm of quirk that is only to be found in the smallest of towns.
In general, things were a lot less sexy than we're used to and a lot more sweet, perhaps Stefano and Domenico have been charmed into the girlier side of things after launching their childrenswear over the summer. Evening, especially, stood out as there wasn't a spot of leopard or lick of LBD in sight, redefining what it means to be a Dolce woman out on the (small seaside) town. Instead, in a remarkable display of craftsmanship, wicker sculpted corsets suspended over a tiny black body and caged crinolines dresses constituted the nighttime offerings.
It was editorial rather an than red-carpet ready, and ended with a gasp-drawing floor-length wicker tutu overlaid with black tulle to close the show. When the girls emerged en masse in 40's style striped high waisted bloomer-bottomed swimwear for the finale, the writing on said postcard was crystal clear: 'Sicilia: wish you were here! Love Stefano & Domenico.' Given the thunderous applause that rocked Metropol when the dynamic duo took their bow whilst late September clouds gathered outside, it seems everyone else wished they were too.