It’s no secret that Dolce&Gabbana designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce have a strong passion for Italy. This love for their home country has been and continues to be present throughout their collections season on season. Whether it’s an inspiration from a particular era in Italian history or prints and patterns mirroring the local landscape, elements of Italy can be seen throughout all of D&G’s designs. The Dolce & Gabbana spring/ summer collection 2020 was inspired by the duo’s love for Sicily. An island that they regularly travel too and speak of their love for.
While Italy is in a moment of crisis, it goes without saying then, that Domenico and Stefano wanted to contribute in some way towards helping Italy navigate through this terrible time. But the designers wanted to do something unique, that they believe would really help towards the future. So they decided to partner with Humanitas University, one of Milan’s leading universities, to help fund a study that aims to clarify the response of the immune system to coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Here, the designers share more on this, as well as talking through the spring/summer 2020 collection and of course, their love for Italy.
What does Italy mean to you both personally?
DD&SG: For us, Italy is the place where everything started and where everything always returns. Each region has a story to tell, folklores that reveal the soul of the area and of the people who live there, pearls of rare beauty that must be known and treasures of priceless craftsmanship.
Tell us more about the importance of the concept of “Made in Italy” and why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
SG: Made in Italy is a value. We are lucky to live in a country that has an incredible artistic and cultural heritage and we are proud to be able to give light, with our work, to the craft masteries that, even today, represent excellence.
DD: In Italy, we are immersed in absolute beauty. We Italians do not realise it, but our food, as well as our land, art and culture, constantly give us beauty. Our friends from other countries often remind us that a simple walk allows us to admire palaces of marvellous architecture, be it Baroque or Renaissance.
How important is it to you to preserve traditional crafts and handmade techniques?
SG: What we try to do with our collections is to tell and transfer to the new generations the values of “Made in Italy” and the art of craftsmanship. That’s why we created Botteghe di Mestiere, a professional training course that teaches young people the basics and skills of tailoring and at the same time, offers them employment opportunities. It is a project that Domenico and I are very fond of because it reflects and conveys all the values that are fundamental for us: the importance of human touch, tailoring, “creating” with passion, sacrifice, technique, time and patience. These are all of our values. The core of our fashion is nothing but the “know-how” for which it takes dedication and desire to learn.
DD: Tailoring is an ancient profession that needs experts who can teach and pass on the techniques and some of the most complicated workings. Our “method” is based on three points: cutting, embroidery, ironing. Everything else — really everything, at least for us — is secondary. It is also part of the course to learn to look, touch and listen in order to steal the secrets or those small tricks that really make the difference.
How do you think the values and culture of Italy are seen throughout Dolce&Gabbana?
DD: Every dress for us is a narrative that can speak of Italy, of tradition, of roots, of what we like most, of flowers, of colour, of lace, and of tailoring. What brought us to where we are now is love for what we do, the passion for fashion and the desire to tell a story and offer a dream and a memory.
SG: Too often fashion tends to highlight only what is considered to be cool, trendy or “fashionable”, but does not tell much more. This doesn’t interest us. We want to communicate a good story, highlight the beauty of Italian traditions and values and create special clothes and accessories for women and men who choose to wear them. We believe this is the secret, the added value that allows our creations to be timeless.
How do you think the legacy and history of the brand is still relevant today?
SG: We believe that without a past and solid roots, there can be no future. Dolce&Gabbana’s DNA is the union of multiple elements: the harmony of the opposites, the suits, the sensual sheath dress, black and the use of colour, the sacred and profane, the most eccentric print, the simplicity, the lace; we are all of this. The attention to detail, shapes and proportions are all aspects of our aesthetics and they are the plot of a story that has yet to continue.
DD: Dolce&Gabbana’s DNA is characterised by many different elements that will never change. The contrasts of femininity versus masculinity, sensuality versus austerity, precious fabrics versus plain ones; it’s a combination of multiple, different things: rst of all, Italian tradition coupled with our creativity and ideas.
How did you decide to face the Coronavirus situation?
SG: We felt we had to do something to fight this devastating virus, that is threatening all mankind. In these cases, it is important to make the right choice. This is why we thought Humanitas University would be the ideal partner to work with, as its excellence and humanity make it a special entity. Our relationship with Humanitas University doesn’t start with this research project. We’ve already started an active collaboration with the University, funding the scholarships for students of the MedTec School, the innovative degree programme in Medicine.
We want to talk a little about the spring/summer collection – what can you tell us about it?
DD: For us, this collection is a message of joy and lightness, with our love for Sicily at the forefront. We have combined bright colours and tropical patterns with typical island techniques and special materials such as raffia and wicker, drawing inspiration from the classic handwoven baskets. There is also a part of the collection dedicated to black, to sensual clothes and with a tight t.
SG: It is a story of colour and vitality, our Sicilian Jungle. We are Sicily, our world; the jungle is all that comes from outside, the inspirations, the movement, the constant changes… what influences us and affects us in our life. It is a collection full of love and positivity because this is what we want to express today.
Growing up, what is your first memory of Italy?
DD&SG: We are lucky because we have many good memories related to Italy, Sicily and Milan. It’s too difficult for us to name just one!
What’s your favourite Italian era?
SG: Neorealism for sure! Classic Italian cinema, the old Neorealism films have been and continue to be, sources of great inspiration for us. In our collections there is always a part dedicated to Nero Sicilia and also refers to black and white cinema, to the beautiful women like Anna Magnani and Sophia Loren that will always inspire us.
DD: Baroque is also a period we love and from which we constantly take inspiration. With its richness in details and its timeless opulence, we often look back at that artistic phase. Inspirations do not die, they are always there, in the drawer of our imagination; from time to time they jump out and give new ideas.
How would you describe Italy in one sentence?
DD&SG: Passionately beautiful!