#SuzyCouture: Dolce&Gabbana’s Ode To Palermo
By Suzy Menkes
The Italian duo cleared the square in
Domenico’s home town for a show that
translated history for a private
As Domenico Dolce skirted the gilded angel atop the Baroque crown and put the finishing touches
to the models’ lips, he spilled out all his emotions about showing Alta Moda in his home town.
“Palermo! For me, it is my life, my memories – my family, my grandmother,
my school, my father, my mother – my life,” the designer said.
The line-up of the colourful clothes – some cute and sporty, others intricate or noble –
led to a finale of dresses sweeping across the pathway. They were tipped by feather headdresses
swaying in the evening breeze. By the time Stefano Gabbana had hugged the mayor of the
southern Italian city, and the models in all their peacock colours had lined up among the
marble statues in the Piazza Pretoria, the private clients were on their feet waving
their champagne glasses and leaping to register a purchase.
That evening, sitting at tables in the gardens of a former Benedictine monastery by the ocean,
gazing at tables laden with toy characters carved in sugar, there was no doubt that the show
was a hit – a palpable hit. For in a discreet side room, clients who had registered their choices
by WhatsApp were ordering outfits, fighting as politely as possible to be the one and only wearer.
There is a back story to the design duo’s couture collections for women, men, female jewellery and,
this season, the advent of Alta Gioielleria – men’s high jewellery, that went from eagle-shaped
brooches to intricate decorative cigarette lighters. This decoration was shown in a private
palazzo with Damien Hirst butterflies on the walls and a view from
the balcony over the jumbled stone buildings.
What this Alta Moda show achieved was to create a cultural fashion universe. Domenico and
Stefano used fragments of Palermo memory, from its history – Arab to African, Spanish to
Middle Eastern – and its deep Catholic heritage. Not least was the reference to Il Gattopardo
or The Leopard the book that defined Palermo’s history and whose film version
by Luchino Visconti in 1963 brought it to the wider world.