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Kim Kardashian and Dolce & Gabbana: A Match Made in Marketing Heaven

Designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce tapped the mega-influencer to co-design their most recent collection.
Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2023
Designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce tapped mega-influencer Kim Kardashian to co-design their latest collection. (Getty)

MILAN — Four years ago, Stefano Gabbana, one half of the designer duo behind Italian label Dolce & Gabbana, allegedly called the Kardashians “the most cheap people in the world” in an Instagram comment that was later deleted. Now, the label has collaborated with Kim Kardashian, who tweaked Dolce & Gabbana styles from the 1990s and early 2000s for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection.

At a press conference on Saturday morning, Kardashian sat on a leopard-print throne, flanked by Gabbana and Dolce, who were seated in floral-covered chairs decorated with decals of the their faces.

“We were surprised because we say we never look back,” Gabbana said. But the online attention that the brand garnered after throwing Kourtney Kardashian’s wedding to musician Travis Barker in May 2022 — for which they outfitted the family in a series of Dolce & Gabbana looks, and also staged the ceremony in their villa — inspired Dolce to want to do more, they said.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2023

Kardashian, for her part, answered pre-screened questions about her personal style and experience working on the collection. “Sometimes I’m a futuristic alien Barbie, which I love,” she said. “But in my soul I’m also a very sensual Italian mob wife.”

The star’s fondness for Dolce & Gabbana goes back a long way: There may be no other brand that she has worn more as she journeyed from wealthy Calabasas teen to popular reality star to wildly successful serial entrepreneur. (Some of her first purchases as a fashion-obsessed teenager were several D&G dresses, which she still owns). And she and her family are certainly not alone in their devotion.

The thing industry people talk about when they talk about Dolce & Gabbana — besides the controversy they’ve sparked online in the past few years — is that their customer is happy and loyal. Over the past four decades, the designers have built an eager clientele that buys their beautifully constructed dresses season after season, fueling a robust ready-to-wear business that helps the label generate well over $1 billion a year, according to public records.

Hours after the press conference came the main event, where Kardashian, who is also the face of Balenciaga’s Autumn/Winter 2022 campaign, fulfilled her ultimate client dream: collaborating on designs.

At the venue, an old cinema-turned-event space called Metropol, guests were greeted by a cloud of cotton candy-scented smoke and a large black-and-white movie poster featuring an image of a still-bleached-blonde Kardashian with the words “Ciao, Kim” printed across the front. What sounded like circus music played in the background.

The show opened with a black-and-white film of Kardashian living out her mob-wife fantasy, seated at a table in a crowded restaurant otherwise filled with men in suits. Soon she was carefully eating a plate of red-sauce spaghetti, twirling the pasta with her fork and dabbing the corners of her mouth with a white linen napkin. As she moved on to an arugula salad, dressing it with a lemon, the models filed out in handsomely finished looks that were, the designers said, about 20 percent different from the originals.

Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2023

It was a greatest hits collection pulled from the sharp edge of Dolce & Gabbana’s knife. Their softer, floral looks were nowhere to be found. Instead, the focus was on the rib cage, with several iterations of their bustier, and a limited palette of black, white and silver, with one shock of red. And yet, it was far from minimalist, with texture coming from intense bursts of jewel encrustations (on tap pants, or decorating a pair of low-rise cowboy jeans), shiny silver leather and a leopard print, the only print in the show.

Kardashian seemed to take the project seriously, implying she intended to create a collection that would appeal across generations — and to clients with a wide variety of body types. “My younger sisters are going to die when they see our 2000 references,” she said. (The models, diverse in ethnicity and size, reflected this.)

Kardashian did not walk the show. Instead, she appeared at the end of the finale in a black crystal-covered dress that delicately hugged her frame, soon to be joined by the designers for their bow.

While Kardashian has put her name on apparel tags before, this experiment — bound to be successful, if only based on the merit of the clothes — raises the prospect that she may someday be interested in launching her own high-end fashion label. Either way, Dolce & Gabbana will continue making pieces that clients like Kim Kardashian want to buy.


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