Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana celebrated the 10th anniversary of their Alta Moda collection with an extravaganza in Sicily that showcased fashion in excelsis—heavily dosed with the Italianness that the duo is so famed for. Showcasing the best from their made-to-measure ateliers in the worlds of womenswear, menswear and jewellery, the four-day affair of presentations, after-parties and merriment were attended by the brand’s VIP clients, and famous faces that included Dame Helen Mirren, Emma Roberts, Sharon Stone, Drew Barrymore, Ciara and Heidi Klum among others. Kicking off the festivities was the Alta Gioielleria presentation, which saw remarkable high jewellery pieces shown inside the cavernous quarry of Grotta dei Cordari, beautifully lit to reveal living tableaus of Greco-Roman myths depicted by actors. This was followed by a spectacular women’s show the next evening at Ortigia’s Piazza Duomo, where guests were treated to a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana, the 19th-century one-act opera by Pietro Mascagni that involved a copious number of dancers, and an appearance by Mariah Carey, flanked by Mr Dolce and Mr Gabbana, much to the delight of guests.
From the yards of luscious silks and crepes, to the flying chiffon capes and handcrafted 3D cherubs on porcelain-white mini dresses, the House delivered a 108-look collection that fitted in seamlessly with the highly emotive operatic performance. After all, what is Alta Moda all about if not fantastical fables and drama? The last night of festivities brought guests to the charming fisherman’s village of Marzamemi. Here, the captivating Alta Sartoria showcase brought to the forefront an ancient tale of a widowed Arabian princess who hid gold, coins and precious stones in the Calafarina caves before setting sail to Egypt. In the hands of Dolce and Gabbana, these treasures appeared on the handcrafted face sheaths, armour vests as well as tailored suits and denims laced with a Middle Eastern inflection. Truly, an unforgettable presentation.
It is by now well-established that Virginie Viard is not one for grand, sweeping statements, or clickbait-y, soundbite-y themes when it comes to the narratives of her Chanel collections. Her collections are first and foremost about what women want to wear. With her latest couture proposition, Viard offers a vision of supreme ease and chic nonchalance for the ultimate Chanel client— and she has them covered from day to night, and everything in between. The show opened with a slim suit in bright green tweed—a slightly cropped, slightly boxy jacket; its skirt elegantly ending a couple of inches above the ankle. It was classic and modern all at once. She followed up with a tweed jumpsuit that sported stripes picked out in delicate embellishments; soft but structured riding coats; another skirt suit, now in beige, with the jacket open to reveal a pink camisole painstakingly constructed out of embroidered flowers. As always, they ended slightly below mid-calf length, which looked extra alluring and easy, worn with slim but just-slouchy-enough leather boots. The wide-brimmed hats that obscured the models’ eyes added a counterpoint of movie-star glamour.
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Pleats were also a recurring theme—lending a delicateness and a beautiful sense of movement to the clothes. Two standout uses came in the middle of the show, via a pair of green looks: A jade halterneck gown with pockets, cut like a column but with deep pleats from the knees down that swayed beautifully as the model walked; and an emerald two-piece, the straps of the top pulled delicately down the shoulders, and the trousers pleated on the sides for a voluptuous fullness. For the first time on a Chanel runway, the models were decked out in high jewellery—which, despite their preciousness, looked utterly effortless. No flash or ostentation, the pieces were quietly integrated into the looks—exactly how the Chanel couture customer would wear them. The best example was a black velvet suit, its jacket held together only by a gold-and-diamond starburst brooch at the navel, an echo of the necklace that sits above it.
Titled “The Beginning”, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest couture collection was a homage to and a celebration of the history of Valentino. The story of the brand originated in its first atelier at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome—and that was where the show took place, with over 100 models slowly making their way down those iconic steps in a profusion of colour, culminating in a spectacular, cinematic tableau at the end. But first, the beginning: Pierpaolo opened the show with a pouf of a dress, covered in giant Valentino-red roses. Befitting for an homage, that particular shade of red was a constant, splashed onto faux fur chubbies, languid tailoring, and fluttering evening gowns. The flowers were another House signature Piccioli kept returning to in the form of rosettes and intarsia— they stood out in a collection relatively free of prints.
The collection’s impact was delivered mainly through colour and silhouette. In the former camp, Piccioli’s unrivalled painterly sensibilities were on full display. Some of the lush colour combinations included burgundy with pale yellow and bright orange, cobalt with blush and neon green, rust with mint and white, and aquamarine with lime and purple. However, many of the looks were also rendered in a single shade from head to toe—all the better to stand out in that monumental location. As for the silhouettes, there was an ease to them even at their most fantastical and theatrical. A skirt that was a wave of purple ruffles was worn with a sheer white shirt. Another ruffled extravaganza, this time a bright orange cape trailing down to the floor, was paired with wide slouchy trousers. A voluminous ball skirt made of feathers tufted from organza looked utterly effortless when worn with a crew-neck crop top, while a golden cape with a billowing train was paired refreshingly with sequinned wrestling shorts and a jewelled tank top.
Maria Grazia Chiuri has made it her practice to collaborate with an artist each season. It is her way of sharing the platform and resources of a brand as big as Dior. For her latest couture showing, she reached out to Ukrainian artist, Olesia Trofymenko, whose works often explore themes of the feminine and the folkloric. For Dior, she contributed a series of embroidered paintings of the Tree of Life that formed the centrepiece of the show. The delicate handcraft that is present in Trofymenko’s work also became the defining feature of Chiuri’s latest collection. The designer kept her silhouettes classic and timeless—often a variation of the New Look, but softened and streamlined. The colours were similarly muted with shades of cream, beige and white dominating the palette. This sense of restraint with cut and colour allowed the surface treatments and craftsmanship—incredible lacework, embroideries and ultra-fine pleating—to shine through. There were moments of drama too, but they were always kept in balance with styling that emphasised effortlessness. For instance, the intricately embroidered capes that were paired with a soft pleated beige dress or a white shirt and black skirt. The romantic, diaphanous princess dresses that are a Chiuri signature were also present, refreshed by this season’s slightly folksy leanings.
For the follow-up to his sensational couture debut last year, Demna continued to expand and refine his exploration of silhouettes—which, of course, was a similar obsession of the House’s founder, Cristobal Balenciaga. His second couture collection opened with bodies entirely encased in black leathery neoprene. The glossy face shields the models wore (made in collaboration with Mercedes AMG) and the Speaker bags they carried (a partnership with Bang & Olufsen that married functional purses with portable sound systems) added to the futuristic, alien vibe of the opening section. That neoprene was cut into bodysuits, tops and trousers, dresses and gowns, and suits and coats—some with their shoulders pinched just a touch away from the body. The neoprene was arguably Demna’s version of gazar—the fabric Cristobal created to mould his innovative volumes. The core silhouette established, Demna then allowed the surfaces of his looks to explode into intense embellishment, feathers cut from silk, and his own take on tweed. He also delved into the streetwear “basics” that are the bread-and-butter of the billion-dollar business he has built: t-shirts, hoodies, jeans, sweatshirts—only these have wires injected into them so they can be crinkled and sculpted into couture shapes. Halfway through the show, those face shields came off—revealing famous faces such as Nicole Kidman, Kim Kardashian, Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid and Naomi Campbell. They modelled pieces that evoked the Balenciaga heritage while also nudging it forward—think sculptural gowns; monastic, majestic tailoring; dresses draped and ruched around the body; and finally, three heaving, heavily-crinolined gowns that closed the show.
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Daniel Roseberry’s latest couture collection marked a departure from his overt and often campily outrageous takes on Surrealism of seasons past. Instead, the collection he showed was opulent and glamorous in an Eighties way. There was a strictness to the silhouette—in the strong, sharp shoulders, the severe cuts, the snatched waists—and in the colour palette, composed mainly of black, white and gold. This new approach of glamour first and Surrealism second was an interesting evolution for Roseberry, though the surreal flourishes one expects from the House were still there: The hats that floated a couple inches off the head; the miniature doves perched on the shoulders of a jacket; the chandelier earrings the size of chandeliers; or the gowns cut away to reveal one breast sprouting a single bloom. Roseberry’s fascination with the human anatomy remained too, though translated in more subtle ways such as a black ribcage bustier, a little white jacket molded into the female figure complete with breasts, and a jewelled heart glittering on a bare collarbone. Roseberry also paid homage to the great couturiers of the Eighties, most notably Christian Lacroix, who was himself endlessly inspired by Elsa. The Lacroix influence was writ large in the extravagant poufs and whorls of taffeta, the exaggerated matador hats, and the exquisite bursts of 3D flowers. The craftsmanship that went into those blooms were particularly stunning, especially when they spilled forth from busts like the most fantastical floral arrangements.