Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are the most successful design partnership in fashion history. Since they burst on to the scene in Milan in the eighties, their multi-million-dollar women’s line, menswear, underwear, shoes jewellery and swimwear empire has become one of the dominating forces in Italian – and world – fashion. Every year, the opulent and dramatic presentations, in ever-more spectacular locations, of their successful 21st-century haute couture line Alta Moda are rapturously received by the fashion press.
Their hot-blooded, theatrical style is inspired by the Sicily of Visconti’s 1963 film The Leopard, by Catholic imagery and by the Italian screen sirens like Sophia Loren and Monica Bellucci who wear the designs captured here by Vogue’s stable of photographers: curvaceous dresses, spectacularly colourful coats, Swarovski-crystal-embroidered corsets, tulle ball-gowns hand painted with beautiful floral images, baroque brocades and lashings of leopard-print. The Dolce and Gabbana woman – characterised, according to Vogue, as having ‘a life that reaches beyond, complete with fantasy, turmoil and always a story’– is sensual but proper: actress Isabella Rosselini describes ‘The first piece of theirs I wore was a white shirt, very chaste, but cut to make my breasts look as if they were bursting out of it,’ while Madonna, more prosaically, simply says: ‘I like their designs because they make clothes for a womanly body.’