“We’re looking at New York with Italian eyes,” said Dolce & Gabbana’s Domenico Dolce at a preview of the company’s Spring 2018 Alta Sartoria collection early Saturday morning. What would follow about 12 hours later at Rockefeller Center (where, just a few floors away, Cardi B was getting ready to perform on Saturday Night Live—and finally confirm her pregnancy), was the middle wedge of Dolce & Gabbana’s takeover of Gotham this weekend; on Friday, the house unveiled its latest highest-end jewelry at the New York Public Library, and on Sunday evening, it reveals Alta Moda, its uppermost womenswear component. Of Sartoria, the duo said it was not difficult to show this far away from their Milanese headquarters—they compared getting everything and everyone here to getting the whole operation to Naples (the Italian, not Floridian, city). When you have their reach, dollars, and fandom, that claim makes obtuse sense.
Dolce, and brand partner Stefano Gabbana, count excellent marketing skills among their many talents, and their Alta Sartoria presentation (clocking in at 103 looks, all walked out to the crooning of the legendary Liza Minnelli) was primarily crafted to woo VIP clients—the international ultra-spenders who alighted at Rockefeller Center’s gloriously worn-in Rainbow Room decked to the nines in their Dolce sequins and their Gabbana florals. The couturiers know that the added spectacle of an intimate salon is the hook-line-and-sinker icing on the moneymaking cake. Editors and press also know this, and happily settled into second- and third-row seats, content to let the pageant do its duty: sell.
And sell so much of it will. Dolce & Gabbana’s appeal is that it does not produce head-scratching stuff—the inspirations are literal and novel, and ages young to old can appreciate their interpretations. In last night’s case, New York motifs like the Flatiron Building, the Art Deco lines and curves of the Chrysler Building and midtown’s Fuller Building, the skyline overall, baseball and basketball, the New York Times, and more found their forms as prints on silk shirts and robes or as exquisite beading and sequins on suits and street-ier elements like tees, crewnecks, and hoodies. There’s yet further magnetism in that Dolce & Gabbana straddles the hairline-thin line of fashion and costume—they thrive just fractions to the left, on the fashion side, while still allowing the performative to cascade like diamonds from a knocked-over jewelry box, or flowers from a tipped vase. There’s a reason those clients, and celebrities including Nick Jonas, Trevor Noah, and Steve Harvey, compulsively applaud when a Louisville Slugger–style baseball bat, weightily allover studded with crystals, entered the rotunda.
This being Alta Sartoria, the most extraordinary pieces of the evening fell in the eveningwear category. Soft alligator shawl-collar jackets, an Aurelian-flowered robe over matching trousers, and razor-sharp tailcoats and suits with further crystal embellishments, in all white, all black, or all apple red, all garnered praise. Dolce and Gabbana really know how to cut a sexy-as-hell suit, even if it’s throwing off light beams more in line with a Las Vegas magic show than a New York night on the town. Minnelli, nonambulatory due to an ankle injury, mentioned over and over again that the men looked fabulous. “Oh boy, wow. He wears that when he gets up. As he should,” she said of one, sounding like she was going to faint.
Back in their prep station earlier that day, Gabbana noted: “In Italy, when somebody says something about money, we say, ‘Do you think you’re a Rockefeller?’ ” (Cue the Alta Sartoria location.) Dolce clarified: “Tonight is the new Rockefeller guy. The new dream.” To that, Minnelli’s “Money,” her hit from Cabaret, was apropos; it’s an attainable fantasy for only a very few, but in the Dolce & Gabbana ecosystem—designers, supporters, makers (a great number of which were also over from Italy)—there’s no stealth-wealth factor. The shared pulse of this particular world is: If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and wear tube-beaded slippers and a fur sweater with intarsia stars, and—why not?—a dusty pink fur officer’s coat on top for good measure. There’s a kind of magic in that confidence, and, beyond it all and because of such, New York’s lights in the background seemed to twinkle with extra vim and vigor last night.
To view on Vogue Runway, click here.