MILAN, Italy — Summertime is party time for Dolce & Gabbana, and you need music for a party. That’s where Domenico and Stefano’s heads were at for their new collection: sounds we have known and loved. Or, as they listed them: “Jazz, blues, swing, mambo, pop, dance, hip hop, reggae.”
The live soundtrack for the show was provided by a finger-snappin’ octet (assuming that the tapdancer was part of the group) called the Hot Sardines, whose sound gelled well enough with the huge art deco lampstands that lined the catwalk. Maybe we were in some idealised nightspot in Dolce’s Sicily (Dancing in Palermo blared a t-shirt), but the collection itself roamed a little wider.
The monochrome graphics of legendary jazz label Blue Note’s record covers were reproduced in stylish black and white abstractions, printed on sweats, sequined on jackets. There was a shot of rave in a leopard-spot sweat. Palm Court suave was all over a tux lavishly sequined in gold with musical instruments. The visual motifs came thick and fast: palm trees, pineapples, saxophones, double-necked Gibsons.
There are voices in fashion that cry basta! about Dolce & Gabbana’s themed collections. When they first dived back into Sicily, those themes lifted the duo out of a rut. Now, as the world turns, novelty becomes cliché. After the spaghetti western menswear last season, one more cutesy embroidered appliqué would have been one too many. But such is the successful designer’s instinct that he knows when it’s time to change.
There will still be those who say this collection was excess in extremis. Look again. If a sequin mountain distilled to a monochrome sheen can count for restraint, then this one did, alongside the cool white tailoring and, surprisingly, an elegant handful of djellaba variants, which looked like just the trick for the long, hot summer which is steadfastly refusing to arrive.
The front row was stacked with tween idols, scions of fame — a Dallas, a Brant, a Jagger, Gerbers and a Law on the catwalk etc etc — which was a typically wilful Dolce & Gabbana nod to the moment. That was just plain funny. Those kids, these clothes? Hardy har har. Minus the wingy double-breasted waiters’ jackets, this was the most sophisticated collection the designers have shown for some time. It could well draw new followers to the fold. The ineffable cool of jazz rules.