Dolce and Gabbana: Dreamingly Dramatic
Fashion is frivolous. There it is. I laid it out for you. You’ll never question the existence of it again. Plain and simple, it serves no real greater good. Feel bad yet? Well don’t. Sometimes even I find it hard to grapple with that very important fact. Fashion serves no real purpose other than satisfying our sartorial cravings for something so utterly disposable, it just barely makes sense.
It may seem like I’m contradicting my earlier assertions that modern fashion is driven by the idea of intellectual dressing, and as a trend, minimalism. While those two factors are significantly important, I may have lied. Just a little.
You see, with anything, what comes up must also come down. So it’s no wonder that trends, no matter how popular or unpopular, also come and go. What I’m not saying is that intellectual fashion and minimalism are headed for the guillotine. Quite the contrary. But at some point, excess will have to once again rule supreme. People are going to desire the drama and extravagant vision that poetic fashion can offer and once did.
Once upon a time, fashion was unapologetic. Fashion poised itself as the dream of unattainability, usually viewed through the grandiose runway expressions of a creative impresario. The dream of the designer was then the thrill of the hunt, leaving the consumer longing for the most delicious and frothy pieces that only so few could afford to purchase or even dream of locating. For others, the dream was museum exhibits or makeshift versions of runway looks, often left on the imaginary runway floor that one conjured in their hallways.
For me, part of the dream was fashion editorials. It offered an escape from reality. Models became characters, often masquerading as chicly coiffed nymphs laying around in the most dazzling settings wearing the most dazzling clothing. Flipping through an editorial was like watching a silent movie, each page telling a different story that left a memorable impression. For me, it was the February 2007 edition of Elle that left a lasting impression on my mind’s eye. The editorial was aptly named “High Definition” for obvious references to the future of fashion. The model in one image in particular was wearing a corseted bodice dress from Dolce and Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2007 collection. Turned away from the camera, and sporting a high ponytail, the image focused on the slick, metallic shine of her dress, reflecting the yellow background in a manner that enhanced the dress’s dangerous, unnaturally enhanced curves. And if sex appeal has ever been considered subtle, then it was in the thick black lace that held her so tightly compressed within her dress.
I suppose it’s comforting to know that almost 7 years later, Dolce and Gabbana is one of few fashion houses still dreaming. Some may say that Dolce and Gabbana’s recent love affair with Italy and Sicilian cinema is overbearing, as the design-duo have been toying with the theme since 2010. But what’s so bad about sticking to a theme? Isn’t there something uniquely interesting about making the same shapes look different every season? I find that idea enduring. For Spring/Summer 2014, the duo designed a poetic nod to ancient Sicilian interaction with Greece. The ancient ruins turned column dresses into literal column dresses, printed with sepia toned images of the historic landmarks that turned the wearer into a walking history lesson.
Three dresses in particular were a frivolous testament to the beauty of Sicily’s cherished almond branch flower. The dresses appeared in creamy chiffons embroidered with the most delicate flowers, appearing as if just hanging on by a thread, teetering with the possibility of being blown off it’s branch in the spring wind. You could easily see these dresses floating down the southern coast of Agrigento, where each February a festival is held in honor of the flower, welcoming the arrival of spring. One dress in particular featured an oversized Roman coin as a belt. Practical? No. But this type of fashion is made for one very important reason: dreaming.
One of the most stunning dress from those frivolous beauties was cut close to the body, with enormous dolman sleeves embroidered in the same almond branch flower as the frothy chiffon dresses. The only difference was that this dress was cut in a soft, off white cotton and trimmed with a print that harkened back to the symbols and motifs used in Italian Renaissance pottery and textile. Historically, the ancient patterns represent various ideals such as strength and wisdom. Perhaps it was a testament to the strength and wisdom of the Italian women who are empowered by wearing this type of dream-worthy clothing.
But it wasn’t all a history lesson. Some dresses in the show featured a modern approach to dreamy dressing. Laminated and done in bright hues, such as lime green, the dresses were hand-painted with the likeness of the same almond branch motif that appeared on earlier dresses.
This type of approach taken by Dolce and Gabbana didn’t make luxury and sophistication feel forced, but did succeed in offering a break from the overbearing thought of a world dressed like minimalists. And while the women who wear clothing from Céline and Dior may differ than that of Dolce and Gabbana’s muse, the message is the same: strong women, the kind of women whose strength is equal to that of a Roman colosseum.