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The Star-Studded Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda Show Was a Scene Worthy of a Tintoretto Painting

Picture this: Jennifer Hudson is singing live “Nessun Dorma,” and a rainbow crowns the glorious Piazzetta San Marco, in Venice, where the Serenissima used to invite ambassadors and rulers visiting the city to disembark. It seems like a dream, right? Leave it to Dolce & Gabbana to make dreams come true. The Italian brand presented yesterday evening its Alta Moda show, the Italian equivalent of Haute Couture, in a scene worthy of a Tintoretto painting.

One of the biggest editions ever in terms of number of guests, the Venice showcase was, naturally, as grand as its hosting city: from the arrival of the 100 models on 100 gondolas, to the guest list that included Jennifer Lopez, Ciara, Kris Jenner, Normani, and Dame Hellen Mirren. There was also Sean Combs, Monica Belluci, and Heidi Klum, who were especially excited to see their daughters walk the runway.

As per tradition, for Alta Moda, all the clothes are handmade, with the best fabrics sourced and the most exquisite artisanal technics employed from all over Italy. “In our country, we have the best craftsmanship in the world. And it’s the best in the world because we do it with passion,” explained the designers, also pointing out: “But don’t dare to ask an artisan how many hours something took to make, that’s not the point.” From the endless detail of the dresses seen on the runway, we can guess that countless hours were invested in the precious parade of designs sourcing silks, brocades, velvets, glass and crystals, embroideries and precious fabrics. “When you see something metallic looking like gold… it’s real gold,” reminds Domenico Dolce.

Like out of a Casanova novel, there were beaded dresses that reminded us of colorful Murano chandeliers, magnificent looks recreating iconic Venetian mosaics, jackets with XL shoulders with Harlequins masks, and spectacular capes embellished with postcard card images of the city. In a move to make the collection feel more suitable for a younger audience, there were also less of the usual ball gowns, with silhouettes becoming more playful and youthful, especially paired with flat heels and rebellious colored hair worn by the models, from pink to green.

This year, maybe because the world is still recovering from Covid-19, and some are still shy of full on glamour, not all the looks were so opulent at all times, with a section of dresses that impressed with its simplicity, avoiding any embroidery, and just relying on beautifully cut fabrics and rich colors.

If there’s only one thing that we missed seeing on the runway, was a more experienced casting of models that could showcase the magnificent dresses on the runway in a more assertive way, also better representing the strength of the Italian woman that is a fundamental part of Dolce & Gabbana’s DNA. But don’t get us wrong, there was plenty of passion around us, even when rain started to fall exactly once the last looks took the runway, making all look as dramatic — and as Dolce! — as it should. We also overheard that brand ambassador Sharon Stone might be in town for this evening’s Alta Sartoria show… What more can one ask for?

High jewelry, the most fitting accessory 

Ahead of the Alta Moda show, this year’s Alta Gioielleria spectacular by Dolce & Gabbana lit up the Palazzo Ducale and offered further dazzle to its historic pink marble facade. Set against Tintoretto’s work “Paradise,” the world’s largest painting on canvas, sumptuous tourmalines, rubies, diamonds, and sapphires set in gold are crafted into earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Scenes depict Venetian gondoliers while romantic roses coil around dainty wrists. Master craftsmen harnessed centuries-old art of glass and mosaic work along with goldwork to highlight the best of Made in Italy. A standout piece featured stone-carved skulls that pay homage to the conflict between Eros and Thanatos—a celebrated theme in the history of art and literature. It features over 200 elements assembled by hand.

Take Dolce & Gabbana home

What set off the weekend-long event in Venice on a high note, was the launch of the Italian house’s debut home decor line, Dolce & Gabbana Casa. The exclusive reveal of the stunning pieces, from homeware to furniture, was the perfect event to wet the palettes of the guests who arrived in Venice. Spread across four themes: Mediterranean Blue, Carretto, Leo, and Zebra, the creations are made in collaboration with Italy’s heritage artisans who have lent to the collection their ancient techniques such as Murano glass blowing, and hand-painted Sicilian ceramics. “With Dolce & Gabbana Casa we wanted to create a unique lifestyle,” share the designers. “You need only to behold one of our furnishings or caress a fabric to immediately perceive its foundational values: impeccable craftsmanship, love for the fatto a mano (handmade), respect for tradition, and the quest for innovation.”

The collection includes appliances from Dolce & Gabbana’s 2018 collaboration with Smeg, as well as cabinetry, seating, and decorative pieces. While nearly every piece is dripping with the house’s signature maximalism, some of the bolder pieces not for the faint of heart are the leopard-printed bed and sofa sets complete with matching textile.

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