The Italian brand hosted over 400 clients and celebrities in the city’s St Mark’s Square for a lavish couture presentation set to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” There were several notable names in attendance, such as Jennifer Lopez, Sean Combs, Kris Jenner, Christian Bale, Dame Helen Mirren and Kitty Spencer, while Dolce & Gabbana recruited a number of celebrity offspring as models, including D’Lila Star Combs (daughter of Sean Combs), Deva Cassel (Monica Belluci), Emmeline Bale (Christian Bale) and Leni Klum (Heidi Klum).
It was just the latest fashion industry event to take place in Venice this year, as the canalled city has emerged as something of a fashion hot spot. Pierpaolo Piccioli and Valentino hosted their Autumn/Winter 2021 show at the Gaggiandre, and Rick Owens showed his Spring/Summer 2022 collection on Lido Beach.
The event — and the number of recognisable names who attended — also generated some backlash, particularly on social media. The past few years have seen Dolce & Gabbana, as well as its its designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, at centre of several controversies for racial insensitivity and outright racism, as well as sexism and anti-gay statements. Most notably, in November 2018, ahead of a bid to woo China, the brand faced social media backlash and calls for boycotts after releasing a campaign that showed a Chinese model trying to eat Italian foods with chopsticks. In the face of the controversies, the brand’s designers have remained defiant and at one point produced their own “#BOYCOTT Dolce & Gabbana” T-shirt.
Since then, Dolce & Gabbana has been inching its way back into the fashion fold — further evidenced by the well-attended Alta Moda show. Overall sales didn’t seem to be materially impacted by 2018′s scandals — revenue for the fiscal year ending March 2019 rose 5 percent to €1.38 billion ($1.54 billion). That growth came despite the brand’s icy relations with the world’s second-biggest luxury market for the months following the campaign as it was dropped by Alibaba, JD.com and Yoox Net-a-Porter. By early 2020, Dolce & Gabbana had hired Versace and Armani veteran Lucio Di Rosa as its VIP relations and celebrities, and was spotted on Greta Gerwig, Blake Lively, Lupita Nyong’o and the Duchess of Cambridge in pre-Covid public appearances.
The brand’s relationship with Chinese consumers, however, remains strained. In June, Hong Kong-based singer and actress Karen Mok received backlash when she wore multiple Dolce & Gabbana pieces in a music video.
Despite a long string of Diet Prada-worthy missteps that had stylists, editors and celebrities alike boycotting the brand, it is once again a fixture on the red carpet. BoF tracked the fall and rise.