When you strip away the facade and the fandango of fashion, what's left that matters? In many ways, those soul-searching questions are the subtext of the season, as the industry strives to re-anchor itself in fundamental values after a decade spent sucking up to celebrities and, increasingly, pumping out overpriced pseudo luxury made in China. In Milan, Dolce & Gabbana marshaled their response to the call for authenticity and a reconnection with every woman who's been a frustrated, alienated shopper over the past few years: Simply, yet movingly, they showed their classics, and how they make them.
In a video, Domenico Dolce was seen expertly running tailor's tacks into the lapel of a jacket in the studio—as he learned at the knee of his Sicilian tailor father—while Stefano Gabbana sketched, took measurements, and finished one of the curvaceous Italianate sex-bomb dresses the pair made their own 20 years ago. Alone, those scenes could have been self-aggrandizing, but the real kicker was the way the designers handed over the spotlight to the skilled, white-coated women and men in their ateliers who craft their product.
At the end, as at the Marc Jacobs show in New York, it had hard-bitten members of the audience running backstage with tears in their eyes. Dolce & Gabbana are facade maintainers and fandango-dancers with the best of them, but they hit a nerve in making the information in this show intimate and personal, as well as instantly available across the globe via live streaming. Perhaps the level of that exposure cuts out the need for too much explanation of the looks they put out. Aficionados will note the very new: the fact that quite a large proportion of the dresses and suits were knitted. But what really matters? That what Dolce & Gabbana does remains, immaculately, the same—and there's evidently still so much enjoyment and passion in the making of it.