Remember the 90s? Thick bleached middle-parted fringes, way-too-high flatforms, high-waisted jeans. While some of us who lived through that era continue to cringe at our fashion choices, Gen Z — they were practically born with smartphones in their hands — the 90s has become their preferred decade of style reference for self-expression. Dolce & Gabbana is setting its sights on this new generation of fashion consumers, and the Fall Winter 2021 collection, dubbed #DGNextChapter, signals a bold new direction for the house.
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The e-girl or e-boy is the poster child of Gen Z, a subculture that was born and bred in the social media era from the late 2010s. They dye their hair in pastel shades, preferably with heavy bangs, and continue with thick wing-tipped eyeliner, plus low-key Cosplay. Their lives are on display on the digital realms of Instagram and TikTok, with their offbeat subculture references and obsession for their online personas. People of a certain age call them kooky and eccentric in the real world as these Gen Z collective become social media stars from the comfort of their own bedrooms. This brand of social media narcissism is just what Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are tapping into.
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The whole collection looks like a beginner’s guide to the 1990s. There are metallic disco pants worn with boudoir lace bralettes and sheer neon tops; faux fur coats, oversized puffer jackets and bodysuits are spray painted in fluorescent graffiti. Models sport cyber-punk rainbow-coloured highlights in their hair as well as don black and blue lipstick together with logos on t-shirts and full body catsuits.
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The collection is created in collaboration with the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, with robots take on a starring role in both the teaser video and the show. Colours and prints are inspired by circuit boards, programming lines, and computer screen glitches, and models are geared up like Robocops in oversized shoulders, holographic dresses and ultra-chunky sneakers.
Though the brand’s new direction seems so far from that sultry Sicilian glamour that we have come to associate with Dolce & Gabbana, the collection is peppered with instantly recognisable house icons: the corset dress, complete with chokers and stacks of chains, a jewel encrusted bodysuit, and the double-breasted jacket dress with power shoulders. The 90s is in the brand’s DNA after all.