Let there be light, and lots (and lots) of it. That was the message from Messrs. Dolce & Gabbana in unveiling their spectacular spring/summer 2022 men’s show in Milan, where they installed a traditional luminarie display - a mainstay of Italian celebrations whereby a sculptural wooden structure is ablaze with colourful bulbs - and tripped the light fantastic. After the gloom and misery of the last 16 months, it was a glorious escape from reality. Light in literal form, and light in the metaphorical sense too.
“We called the show ‘light therapy’ because these lights are a tribute to life,” said Stefano Gabbana. “They are associated with festivities, events and people coming together eating, singing and clapping hands. The message is that we will be together again,” said the designer. The Arabesque, curling forms of the luminarie structures native to Sicily and Puglia were emblazoned in multi-coloured stones across suiting, sweatshirts, T-shirts, suits and just about everything else - even swimming trunks. The glittering motifs were embroidered around collars and danced across trouser hems.
Alongside the literal interpretations of the luminarie, the theme of high shine glitz carried on into other parts of the collection, from gleaming jacquard shirts to glittering sequined suits in shimmering gold and green. Subtlety wasn’t part of the playbook this time around; joyous maximalism was the order of the day.
That sentiment has form with Dolce & Gabbana; the pair said that in the run up to the millennium, they decided to go against the minimalist grain of the late 90s with a take-no-prisoners show - alluded to via a T-shirt with ‘2000’ printed on it.
There were other nostalgic nods (perhaps as salve for our current times) too; the faded, ripped, studded denim that called to mind the brand’s collections of the 90s, as well as cornerstone pieces from the Dolce & Gabbana playbook - handcrafted, crochet knit tops inspired by the rugged attire of Sicilian fishermen but rendered by artisans. White lace, the kind of which would adorn nonna’s table for a pasta-laden lunch with La Familia, also feature on T-shirts.
That said, Dolce & Gabbana were thinking of the future, not the past. "You can’t just live your life digitally, on social media”, said Dolce. “You need contact, you need to see people, experience things,” he said, expressing relief that they could stage a physical show instead of a digital presentation. The full force of a Dolce & Gabbana catwalk extravaganza needs to be felt in person; ‘a fashion show is emotion, it’s adrenaline, it’s about connecting with people. You can’t do that online,” said the designer.
And talking good times ahead, Dolce & Gabbana have plenty for the Portofino party boy who’s had enough time cooped up indoors. Firstly, if he’s been working on his beach body during lockdown, there are spangly trunks a-go-go to make an impact around the pool, and secondly, there’s some seriously sensual dancefloor-ready attire to shake his hips in. Namely rainbow-hued silk kimono shirts, slashed to the navel to reveal the torso.
“We’ve had enough months of the sofa, no?,” joked Gabbana. “We need to dress up.” And there’s never been a more fantastical way to do it. Dolce & Gabbana’s smile-inducing celebration lit up Milan men’s fashion week.
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