Dolce&Gabbana Alta Moda Spring 2014
Floral Fantasy at Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda Spring 2014
by Hamish Bowles on vogue.com
The sun shone unexpectedly bright in the echoing salons of a penthouse
duplex in Milan—with its views across the rooftops of the duomo’s spires in
Milan—where the clients of Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda are received. For this,
the designers’ fourth couture presentation, they looked to the world of flowers,
and specifically, as Stefano Gabbana explained backstage, to the idea of
cut flowers, and the uniquely personal choices and arrangements that women
make. And what floral displays! Domenico Dolce said they had negotiated
with some international museums to secure the rights to reproduce a few iconic
artworks —Redon’s anemones, a Klimt sunflower, Manet’s white lilacs—for
unique editions of one dress each, the individual works reproduced on a
blistered damask to enhance the painterly effect, with sleeves beaded and
embroidered in harmonious colors.
But the duo also developed their own atelier art pieces—elaborate and
playful patchworks of textile and embroidery used to create delightfully naïf
“flowers in a vase” pictures that recalled the collaged effects that the
celebrated Madame Brossin de Mere created for Yves Saint Laurent’s
couture collections from the late 1960s. Meanwhile the superb cutwork lace
effects, cut out of stiff silks and then laboriously hand-stitched, remain another
house signature, in tea rose, beige, and jet black.
Those impressive salons had been transformed into a nineteenth-century
rose garden, with pergola frames and arbors twined with soft pink and mauve
roses and greenery. The girls wafted through this poetic garden, with silk flowers
of course as topknots in their Ingres hairstyles—like figures in an Impressionist
painting. As Dolce explained, their couture needs to suit international clients across
climate zones, so there were diaphanous Botticelli creations of airy pale chiffon
in blush and soft beige lavished with thousands of ravishing hand-made silk flowers
from a legendary craftswoman in Vicenza, Italy, whose company made the flowers
used by Christian Dior in the 1950s. There was even an hourglass minidress
of purple velvet-covered wire clustered with posies of violets. And then there were
Persian lamb suits, in idiosyncratic colors like chrome yellow, prune, and
mushroom gray, with double golden sable collars that the Russian clients were
Those pretty flower children were interspersed with sirens dressed in hourglass
pieces in dramatic black, exaggerating the shapely mid-century line that
Gabbana and Dolce have always cherished. And in response to a special request
from a client who wanted haute couture lounge wear for her palazzo, the designers
added luxe silk satin pajamas and dressing gowns; these might have luxurious
fur collars and cuffs, or the pajama pants sewn to create a bias swirling skirt.
For the Viscontian finale, two vast skirted tulle ballgowns swept by, representing
Innocence and passion, respectively—the first in pale melting-pink roses scattered
on tea-stained nets, the latter in crimson and magenta flowers on black. The bride,
meanwhile, had a Renaissance look with double, creamy satin billowing from
an empire waist and a flower bed of pastel blooms scattered over it.
The accessories are extraordinary: dainty, little, stiletto-heeled shoes on
a filigree of real spun gold, and mid-century parures fit for Verdi’s La Traviata
in precious metals and stones, with carved coral cameos and exquisite micro mosaics.
After a lunch on the glassed-in rooftop, guests and clients repaired downstairs to
the salons where the clothes had been arranged. In the Day-of-the-Locust frenzy,
dozens of these one-off pieces seemed already to have been reserved.
Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda spring/summer 2014:
Inside the floral home of elite couture
By Lisa Armstrong on The Telegraph Luxury
On Thursday evening I found myself in the extremely private workrooms of
Dolce & Gabbana’s studio in Milan. Beneath a dozen chandeliers (banish
thoughts of Dickensian sweat shops) 50 or so highly skilled seamstresses,
all wearing white lab coats with black lace collars, were cutting, handsewing
and embroidering in preparation for the label’s Alta Moda show. With under 16
hours to go, they were in a cocoon of calm focus. Diptych candles filled the air with
the scent of roses. Silk tulle and satin underwear hung from rails. It was intensely,
headily feminine: an intimate passage from Zola or Proust brought to life.
Alta Moda is Italian for haute couture, which is French for made-to-measure,
handmade, one offs. Couture is often used to mean “very expensive clothes”
– and it’s true that prices run to hundreds of thousands of euros — but expense
is not its sole USP. Like champagne, couture must adhere to strict French
rules to qualify as authentic. It is beyond anything seen in a designer shop.
Dolce e Gabbana’s Alta Moda is, much as the French fashion establishment
might not want to hear this, beyond most of what is shown during Paris couture
week. Only a handful of journalists are invited. Instagramming and tweeting are
banned. No actresses will be photographed in these outfits.
“None of our customers wants to wear something that’s been seen everywhere,”
In one room, thousands of individual organza petals are being stitched
on to green satin dresses or black wool skirts, and topped off with jewels.
No laser cutting is allowed – unlike in Paris.
Flowers are everywhere, spilling out of vast vases, tumbling over dresses.
Nine of the 65 outfits in the spring/summer collection were inspired by paintings
by Van Gogh and Renoir. Reproduction rights have had to be negotiated and the
designers were only permitted to reproduce them to a certain scale. This is Slow
Fashion. A black net ball gown with pink silk flowers has taken four months
to complete. “We make these pieces to last a lifetime,” says Stefano Gabbana.
Even Dolce and Gabbana have been taken aback by demand. On one floor
I saw groups of wooden and silk dressmaker mannequins, each engraved
with a client’s name and replicating their bodies. On another floor, I spotted
an order for several skirts, dresses and lingerie. Couture underwear? “Yes.
And couture pyjamas,” exclaims Domenico Dolce. “We have clients who
want couture for every moment of their lives. You can’t imagine the lives
When the duo launched their Alta Moda line two years ago, it seemed like
an anachronistic indulgence. Few designers can afford the investment,
unless they work for a big house such as Dior or Chanel which use couture to
promote perfumes and sunglasses. Dolce and Gabbana, who own their label
outright, are adamant theirs will not be a publicity machine but an idealised
version of couture as it was half a century ago. This ultradiscreet approach
has attracted 100 repeat clients. The next day, I see them in action.
Shortly after midday, 150 or so guests are shown to their seats beneath
bowers of flowers. The average age is between 35 and 50, many of them
living in New York or London. Slim, immaculately madeup and fragrantly
pressed into cocktail dresses from previous Alta Moda collections. Husbands
are in evidence, often a respectful three paces behind their wives.
I spot a Yorkshire woman I met at Dolce and Gabbana’s previous couture
show in Venice, wearing the elegant, calf-length black fitted wool dress
with a sweetheart neckline she ordered there. Since these are one-offs,
each client knows it’s first come, first served. Being second means you
will have to settle for a modified version to ensure no two women
will bump into each other in identical outfits.
As the dresses file out onto the catwalk, there are audible gasps, especially
when the black net ball gown appears. But every outfit is exquisite, from the
pink silk pyjama dress with its burgundy piping to the classically elegant
narrow-waisted black lace skirts and jewelled buttoned jackets.
Since launching Alta Moda, Dolce e Gabbana have sold around 15 wedding
dresses. However, the biggest seller has been variations of that black
wool dress, the original of which now resides in Yorkshire. Afterwards,
its owner tells me about the outfit she has just ordered – another day-dress
in Wedgwood blue. Her cheeks are flushed with the chase. It’s barely an
hour since the show ended and already, the daywear has sold out.
Photo courtesy Dolce & Gabbana