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The Details

Dolce & Gabbana: Living La Dolce Vita

Portrait designer of Dolce & Gabbana

Love, family, Italian values and a Mediterranean way of life, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana built their brand on sturdy stuff, so it’s little wonder Dolce & Gabbana is stronger than ever over three decades later...

Fashion for fashion’s sake, for the experience of it, for how it makes you feel, this is what one of the industry's most-loved design duos deals in – in Domenico’s own words, "making people smile and dream." Ahead of the #DGHarrods Christmas partnership, we caught up with the designers to talk love, leading ladies and looking into the future.

 

You've worked together for well over 30 years; what's your secret for such a successful design partnership?

Domenico Dolce: Love. Without that you can't work side by side like we do. Stefano and I often start from opposite – or at least different – viewpoints. Then through dialogue and exchange we always manage to find a solution that's an expression of both my ideas and his. I think this is our secret.

Stefano Gabbana: I don't know what I'd do without Domenico. We're two sides of the same coin. That's another great aspect of working together, swapping roles, always finding something that surprises you, that makes you think and grow and learn from each other.

How do you ensure that both your visions are represented in your collections?

SG: It comes naturally to us. There is no rule. It just happens. Every collection is born first in our heads like a film, with all the characters, the storyline, the set. We're the directors and the models are the actors. There are days when we work together, others when we're on our own. Then we see each other and put our ideas on the table. This one yes, this no, this I'd do differently, and so on.

DD: After all these years, we already know what the other will like, even if we still surprise each other now and again. For example, I'm the one who loves a clean and linear style, even if I occasionally insert embroideries, flowers... while Stefano is more baroque and would put prints and patches on everything!

Finale fashion show Getty
What's your secret of longevity in an industry that's always changing?

SG: We strive to be ourselves, always, to tell stories, to inspire dreams, to transmit authenticity, which is often lacking in today's world. We don't know if this is the right response, but it's our response... We're autonomous, the company belongs to us and we like thinking for ourselves. 

How would you describe the Dolce & Gabbana DNA?

DD: Italian sensuality, Italian tailoring…Italian love! Our DNA is a love story with Italy, past and present. It's about craftsmanship, a love for elegance, for beauty, for 'Made in Italy', for Italy itself, our native land, which has always inspired us with its cities full of art, its traditions, its people.

SG: I would add that, with us, there's always been the principle of contrast: the masculine with the feminine, the sensual with the austere, a precious fabric combined with a simpler one. Some elements are and always will be the protagonists of the stories we tell: lace, brocade, black, the Little Black Dress, the jacket, the corset, the evening dress that leaves you dumbstruck.

  • Milan fashion show ss18 D&G
  • Milan fashion show ss18 D&G Getty
Vivacious prints, lace, leopard – you have nurtured a number of house signatures. How do you maintain their relevance season upon season?

DD: We believe in our values, in tradition. And we never forget that the clothes and accessories and jewels that have defined our identity, our creative history. Customers love our DNA and know it well. This is why they continue to love the Sicily bags, lace and leopard prints.

Your womenswear collections have been described as being a celebration of femininity; what is it to be a Dolce & Gabbana woman?

SG: It's true, we celebrate women because they're all special, each in her own way. Some are sensual and provocative, others more shy, or dark. We love them all, very much, because women are amazing, raising kids and keeping a family going while at the same time pursuing a serious career. 

Who are your leading ladies?

SG: My mother is the queen of my hearts! Even if she always beats me at cards... But if we have to name famous women, then I’d say Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Bianca Balti, Linda Evangelista, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale – all mothers, and all magnificent women. 

The Dolce & Gabbana show is always a Milan highlight – what do the 24 hours before a show look like?

DD: Very intense, we work very hard, fussing over every last detail. I'm obsessively precise, not only about the clothes, but the set, the music, everything has to be absolutely perfect. For the most recent shows we've worked with a special cast of Millennials, so the fittings take a lot of time. We worked till the wee hours every night. We never attend events or parties before a show – we're in the office, working hard. On the morning of the show, I go to the barber and try to relax for a few minutes before going to our theatre and starting the preparations.

How do you celebrate post-show?

SG: For a few years now we've thrown a party at our Martini Bar for our friends, the press, and all our customers who expressly come to Milan to see us. That's when we can finally release all the adrenaline from the show, so it's always great fun.

"We're driven by joie de vivre, everyday life, love for our families and friends, the idea of doing what we love every day."
Domenico Dolce
You've accomplished so much over the past 30 years; do you have any aspirations that haven't yet been realised?

DD: We have new ideas every day. One must fly high to keep creativity alive and never become complacent, so of course, there's still much that we hope to accomplish.

SG: Furthermore, there's still much that we want to learn and discover. Let's admit it, you never stop learning, which is what's so great about our work, and about life in general.

What would you like your legacies to be and do you want the Dolce&Gabbana brand to outlive you both?

Both: We still have many years of work left in us – trust us, retirement is nowhere near the horizon!