#Dolce&Gabbana AltaSartoria @Monreale

 

 

By Luke Leitch

From Vogue.com

 

 

Dolce & Gabbana Present an Alta Sartoria Collection

as Extraordinary As Its Cattedrale di Monreale Setting

 

 

 

When the Virgin Mary appeared to William II in a dream 843 years ago and asked him to build

a church, the 20-year-old King of Sicily spared neither expense nor sinew in meeting her request.

The cathedral he raised at Monreale, a small hillside town outside Palermo, was

consecrated just eight years later in 1182 and is a wonder of the world.

“He had a vision, a vision of beauty,” explained Domenico Dolce last night. “He

employed the greatest architects and artists from across the world:

Istanbul, Venice, Constantinople, everywhere.”

Dolce was speaking in the cathedral’s adjoining cloisters, eye-melting marvel in themselves, s

hortly after a 116-look Alta Uomo menswear show that was both a spiritual and literal homage

to William’s legacy. To understand the collection, Dolce & Gabbana’s 430-strong

congregation of couture clients needed first to understand the cathedral. This crowd is

a broad church that includes Indian industrialists, Russian oligarchs, Emirati eminences,

Spanish speculators, Kazak venture capitalists, German entrepreneurs, Paraguayan plutocrats,

Brazilian retail tycoons, American television celebrities, asset-rich Angolans, and Saudi royalty.

 

All were invited to meander through Monreale’s monumental jewel and contemplate the

6,500 square metres of mosaics that were pieced together with 2,200 kilograms of pure gold.

Benevolent sisters from Monreale’s convent looked on warmly as evening-dressed guests tried

to digest the epic enormity of this incense-scented temple to Byzantine, Saracen, Norman,

Greek, Roman, and Venetian collaborative ingenuity. The nuns, who are among the locals to

benefit from Dolce & Gabbana’s donations to restore a fountain in the cloisters and provide new

wheelchairs for physically impaired visitors, were even keen to pose in

selfies with guests for whom trying to absorb it all was too much.

 

Afterwards we took our benches in the piazza outside around a runway that encircled a statue

of William and two new fruit-heaped lemon trees planted by the designers. Monreale’s citizens

leaned out of windows and lined balconies in the buildings above us. Swallows dived as the

sky darkened until, at just the perfect pitch of half dusk, the models started their fantasy

masculine passeggiata by descending a palm flanked golden staircase from the convent.

As with the building this collection paid testament to, taking it all in was a sensory struggle.

Among the most extraordinary pieces were sweatshirts and bombers made in painted

patchworks of treated crocodile skin that recreated details from Monreale’s mosaics.

There were also less gilded, in design if not materials, plain burgundy, black, and white

crocodile pieces and sweatshirts of shaved mink. To acknowledge the multicultural

multiplicity of Monreale’s magnificence there were jewel hemmed djellabas, slippers, 

phakeolises,and a fez. There were silk shirts, shorts, and pants printed with romanticized

mid-century-style tourist poster illustrations of the cathedral’s piously austere exterior.

 

Domenico Dolce often recounts cutting his first pair of pants before he was 10: He is a dedicated

tailor, and for the masculine side of Dolce & Gabbana at least, the suit is their cathedral. Here

there were scores of examples in brocade, jacquard, and fantastic silk patchwork that all

recreated decorative elements from King William’s duomo. A dressing gown and bomber

jacket were cast in dimpled gold-stitched silk pressed to cast the same

golden pattern as the cathedral’s soaring ceiling.

 

This show was a salute to the eternal legacy of William cast in the ephemeral, and expensive,

medium that is the expertise of Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta ateliers. It not only invited the

clients to spend their money—you can’t take it with you, after all—but also reinforced a credo

expressed by Dolce in that cloister. “William had a vision of beauty and a dedication to it.

This collection is about history, but Stefano and I believe that this is what you

need in fashion now, too: a vision of beauty.”

If the immortality that Monreale cathedral has earned King William was somehow

suddenly to be made miraculously literal, I bet he would want to wear these clothes.

As it was he watched on silently, a statue in the shadow of his creation next to two new lemon trees.

 

 

 

 

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Photo: Courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana