Italian designers. They work as a team and are considered the creators of a new Mediterranean style. Domenico Dolce (1958) was born in Polizzi Generosa (Palermo). As a young man, he followed entered the business of his father Saverio, which was a small clothing company. Stefano Gabbana (1962) was born in Milan. He studied the graphic arts, but soon chose fashion as a profession. The two met and decided to form a professional partnership. For some years, they collaborated with various design studios, until they decided to start their own business, establishing the Dolce & Gabbana griffe. Their first participation in a fashion event was in 1985: Beppe Modenese invited them to Milan for the Collezioni Nuovi Talenti (New Talent Collections). They presented a Collection of definite novelty, produced in a series of artisanal Sicilian workshops, which drew the interest of the trade press. But their first self-produced Collection was the following March, in the via Santa Cecilia headquarters of their atelier in Milan. In the intense atmosphere of mini-skirts and squared shoulders and the career woman, the feminine figure proposed by Dolce & Gabbana was the traditional one that could be found among the women of Lampedusa’s Il Gattopardo, in the streets described by Verga, or in the paintings of Guttuso. The women of Sicily, fiery, seductive, and severe, at the same time God-fearing and attached to family and church; a mix of glamour and verismo, the exaltation of a Mediterranean rediscovery. The inspiring muse was a Santuzza who liked to play the uninhibited girl, with bras and corsets in plain sight, and petticoats, veils, and lace displayed with erotic impudence. The Dolce & Gabbana style was strong and pronounced, and moved away from the panorama of those years. Their Santuzza made her way quickly, wearing a girdle, and a rosary, as if it were a precious necklace, and a man’s waistcoat decorated on the back with lace, and a bra over a blouse. In 1988, an agreement was signed providing for the manufacture of the prêt-à-porter by a company in Legnano belonging to the family of Domenico Dolce. Another fundamental step in the career of the two young designers was accomplished in 1990, the year in which they presented their first men’s Collection. In 1994 it was the moment of the D & G Collection, a line dedicated to young people, produced and distributed by Ittierre. In order to give a more refined and precise imprint to their style, Dolce & Gabbana put it in the hands of great masters of photography such as Ferri, Scianna, Meisel, Lindbergh, and Newton. The image that emerged seemed to be inspired by the protagonists of films by Germi and Monicelli, women seduced and abandoned, or girls with a gun, in tribute to Anna Magnani, Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, and Stefania Sandrelli. A dominant figure in show business who played a large role in the history of the two designers was Madonna. Their friendship stirred an international outcry with the presence of the American rock star at the D&G party presentation in 1992. Madonna confesses a real passion for Dolce & Gabbana and asks them to design 1,500 costumes for her tour Girlie Show in 1993. But, among their fans are many other names as well, such as Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon, Tina Turner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Liv Tyler, Chiara Mastroianni, Jon Bon Jovi, and Simon Le Bon. In March 1996, D & G celebrated their first important anniversary with a photo book, 10 anni di Dolce & Gabbana (10 Years of Dolce & Gabbana). On the cover was a photo of Monica Bellucci in a remake of the famous striptease in the film La Dolce Vita, which was inspired by a real striptease by the Turkish dancer Aiché Nanà in a Roman nightclub at the end of the 1950s. Also in 1996, they launched a CD called D & G Music, followed in 1997 by another single D&G More More More. For Giuseppe Tornatore, who directed a TV commercial with Monica Bellucci for the first of their fragrances, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana agreed to play a Sicilian shepherd and a Milanese photographer in the film L’uomo delle stelle. Their latest creative step was the D & G Junior line presented at Pitti Bimbo in Florence in June 1999.
Dolce & Gabbana open their new boutique on mythical Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with a big party. Women’s Wear Daily called the event a new touch of Sicily on the West Coast.
After long experience — 15 years — as vice president and manager of Armani, and then as president and managing director of Calvin Klein, Gabriella Forte becomes, at the age of 51, president of Dolce & Gabbana USA and director of Dolce & Gabbana Spa’s licensing and accessories.
The junior line expands to include baby wear from 6 to 24 months. The Baby Spring-Summer 2003-2004 Collection is presented against the background of a fake beach. It is basic clothing with the brand name very visible, a lot of denim, and animal prints. Starting at the end of July, the Collection will be on sale in a kiosk at the Rinascente in Piazza Duomo in Milan. More kiosks will be opened in the single-brand boutiques in Milan, Miami, and Rome (in Piazza di Spagna).
The two designers throw a big party for Kylie Minogue, who is in Italy only at the Filaforum in Assago, at Antologico on via Mecenate. Guests were admitted Only guests wearing the T-“shirt with the words “Dolce & Gabbana for Kylie” that was sent with the invitation, and carrying a computer-generated lip-print of the 34 year old Australian pop diva in the shape of a kiss, were allowed to enter. D&G created all the stage costumes for her European tour.
A return to their original style, the one that made them famous in the second half of the 1980s. Ten cult garments, reissued with a Vintage label, open the Collection. Mini-corsets on a white shirt, a black bustier-dress with laces at the hips, and a knitwear sheath are all back on the runways, along with a sexy, very tight black tailored suit which emphasizes the figure. The Collection continues with the new offerings for Spring-Summer 2003. A surreal and nostalgic atmosphere in an old harbor with moorings and rusted chains is the background for the presentation of very tight trousers fastened by buckles, silver cotton jackets, mini-skirts with leather fringes, wide and asymmetric shirts, short peplums in red jersey, and furs with knitwear and chain inlays. “Futurist, super-sexy, extravagant, erotic, warrior, Hellenic, tough”: these are the adjectives used by D&G for the new Collection. Unusual details such as décolleté shoes with a chain and lock, very thin and giddy heels, boots with a large studded band, handcuff-bangles, collars with the words sex or love written on them. And then the clothes that transform themselves: a dress, a jacket and even a bag change shapes and sizes at will. By the end of 2002 Dolce & Gabbana expects a turnover of €533 million. No crisis for them.
At the start of the Milan presentations, the new space in Milan is opened, in a building on Corso Venezia that is the historic former headquarters of Brigatti. According to plans by the architect David Chipperfield, frescoes and structures were restored and the three floors contain space not necessarily devoted to selling. One could speak more of a men’s club than a shop, with a Sicilian barber (Giovanni Pappalardo, from Gela), a Martini and Rossi bar, and a fitness center with massages, mud packs, and beauty treatments. The furnishings were personally selected by the two designers, with the help of the architect Ferruccio Laviani. Murano lamps, figs from India, baroque thrones, and giant leather bags: everything in D&G style.
For the men’s Collection, D&G offers street life fashion which still wishes to maintain its extreme luxury and not become cheap or shabby.
For Winter 2004, D&G invents a techno-romantic woman. It is romanticism revisited in a modern key: a black-and-white dress with computer-printed cat-like spots; an op-art black-and-white dress with antique lace inlay; a sexy dress worn with motocross boots; and classic patent leather open-toed shoes with very high heels, but on a platform sole. And finally, the play of contrasts between man and woman, with jackets and suits that are always different, and colored oversize parachute-parkas.
The first Dolce & Gabbana Vintage boutique opens at via della Spiga 26/a in Milan.
Mary Quant’s mini-skirt turns 40. To celebrate the anniversary of a true revolution, a “Mini Pride” event is organized in Riccione. The Dolce & Gabbana brand had to be there, and in fact it closed the train parade with three models in mini-skirts riding an antique car.
D&G boutiques on Old Bond Street and Sloane Street in London are the target of groups associated with London Animal Action. According to reports on the website www.fuk.uk some seventy protesters gathered in front of the reinforced shop windows on Old Bond Street to protest the use of animal skins by the two designers. The protesters say that they will repeat the protest every Saturday until D&G renounces the use of furs.
New openings are expected in the near future. After buying a house in Portofino in 2001 — the Villa Olivetta, a mansion rented for years by Mr. Berlusconi, Dolce and Gabbana return to the Gulf of Tigullio. It is now the turn of Santa Margherita Ligure. In June, a boutique measuring 1,300 square feet is opened in the former location of the historic Bima pastry shop, which had closed after 70 years in business. Other recently opened stores are in Venice (September 2002) and Riccione (April 2003). The most important opening is in Munich, in the renovated ancient Fünf Hofe complex. The interior décor, with steel surfaces, mirrors, and boxes of opalescent lights, has been designed, same as the other D&G shops, by the architect Rodolfo Dordoni.
Men’s fashion. A small oasis of palm trees and sand, the rhythms of the 1970s, and an exceptional vocalist, Jocelyn Brown. It is Happy Hour Fashion, brought to the runways in a variation of the classic dry martini offered before the presentations. The stylistic focal point could only be David Beckham, the man today considered the new icon of men’s fashion. “We dress him,” said Domenico Dolce, in an implied polemic against Armani, who dedicated the Beckham Jacket to him.
The launch of Hollywood, a book conceived by Stefano and Domenico. A homage to Hollywood and the stars who in the last ten years have chosen Dolce & Gabbana, it has more than 100 photos of the most important film stars of today; the profits from the book will be donated to charity.
The launch of the book Soccer. It features 44 players, 3 teams, and 2 coaches, photographed in black-and-white by Mariano Vivanco. The profits will be donated to four charity associations.
A new agreement with CitroÍn Italy for a D&G version of the C3 Convertible and C3 Pluriel.
The 20th anniversary of the griffe. By now it has 80 directly-managed single-brand stores (D&G included), revenues of €700 million at 31st March 2005, and revenues of €1.05 billion. For the future, the plan is to open more single-brand stores and to develop the multi-brand network.