Dolce & Gabbana

Sophia Serin sails to the isle of Capri to marvel at Dolce & Gabbana’s latest Alta Moda collection…

The world of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana is a vast one, full of beauty, history and love that encompasses the most stunning designs to ever come out of Italy.

If you could gather up all of the magic that Dolce & Gabbana have woven throughout the years, the Fellini feelings, 1950s flashbacks and Italian history and put them into a collection, Alta Moda is it. The queen of the Dolce & Gabbana kingdom is the very definition of Alta Moda, which, translated from Italian means couture or high fashion.

“It has always been our dream to design an Alta Moda collection and finally after so many years we felt like the right moment had arrived,” explains Domenico. “Alta Moda is very exclusive and unique. It evokes a special emotion from clients. This intimacy is really important for us and our clients, which is why we chose such a special and private location for our show.” And so they did, sailing a select group of royalty, Oscar winners and VIP clients from around the world (on private boats no less) to Capri for the latest collection dedicated to the island.

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Limited to a very, very exclusive few, there are some sartorial rules when it comes to Alta Moda. Only one piece of each design is sold (all 80 of them were sold immediately after the show). “Yes, Alta Moda is all about uniqueness. Our clients are not interested in normal outfits, they could go anywhere for that! Instead, they come to us for unique pieces, so every model is a one and only creation,” reports Domenico.

Stefano adds: “The pieces are made from the 1960s vintage fabric, they are all one of kind, it would be impossible to duplicate it.”

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Another self-imposed rule the designers have enforced on themselves is that there are no rules when it comes to designing an Alta Moda collection. “The Alta Moda clients are very special clients and they live really unique lives. They are not confined by any sets of boundaries. On a normal day they can wake up in Capri and wear a fur cape thrown over a bathing suit for a walk on the beach, and then in the afternoon they can hop on a plane and head to Moscow for a gala dinner,” says Stefano. Domenico adds: “There are no boundaries! That is the beauty of the Alta Moda, it lets us run completely free with our imagination and creativity!”

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There have been five Alta Moda collections to date (Taoramina, Milan Milano collection, Venice, Milan Fiori collection and Capri), with the location the inspiration for the collection. “We thought about all the women who would come to the island and how they would dress. We thought of them in the sun, the different colours, the energy of the island – we find it all very inspiring! We also used a lot of figurative scenes of Capri’s landscapes, lemons and other patterns inspired by Sicilian terracotta, which were then hand-painted on to garments,” says Stefano.

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“Capri is a really special place. It’s a synonym for timeless elegance.    Women here are free, they are not confined by the different seasons, exactly like our Alta Moda. It’s not just a way of dressing, it’s a style of life,” adds Domenico.

In addition to the isle of Capri, a Dolce & Gabbana collection wouldn’t be worth its white shirt if it wasn’t for some true style icons. “Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Maria Callas, Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor, and Ingrid Bergman – these are the legendary women who come to mind when we think of Capri. Iconic figures of style, love and passion, who will forever be engraved in the history of the island,” says Stefano.

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As the sun set in Capri, the 250-strong Dolce & Gabbana family, which consists of their most important clients, the world’s most influential editors, a smattering of celebrities and friends of the brand, sailed through the Faraglioni rocks on traditional Italian fishing boats to the Fontelina beach club. Flat shoes were the order of the evening, as guests spiritedly climbed over rocky paths and stone steps to arrive at the location. With the crashing waves of the Mediterranean and pounding Pavarotti as the backdrop, the scene was more movie-set than fashion show. Royal, velvety, jewel-encrusted corsets were worn with hand-painted striped ball skirts and jewel encrusted crowns. The ultimate LBD made an appearance among all of the fantasy-fur, making you want to disregard every other black dress you had until now. Lemons, local tiles and maps of Capri had been meticulously sketched, made into fabric and then a dress. The result? A tearful standing ovation from the audience as the designers took a bow.

As the billowing ball gowns, lucky-charm jewels and hand-painted accessories descended from a windy, wooden staircase, it was evident that the creative genius behind the designers was set free during the design process of the collection (which took six months to create from start to finish).

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“One dress can take from a month-and-a-half to three months depending on the type of craftsmanship involved. With one specific garment of the collection, we started by painting the lemons, which were then stitched on the outfit, then we added the brocade, and to finalise, we applied crystals and embroideries, the result was a special 3D effect,” says Stefano.

Every piece calls for a specific development. “Sometimes there are two or three tailors working on the same piece, or several working on different parts of the same look,” said Domenico.

With the success of their couture line, one wonders where they will show next? “Everything about Dolce & Gabbana is about Italy, the history, the heritage, the love of family and tradition,” smiles Domenicio.“We are very proud of our Italian heritage and our incredibly rich culture, and that’s why we decided to create our Alta Moda. We wanted to do something for our country, and for this precise reason all of our shows are in Italy – from Milan, to Venice, to Capri, we want to keep it entirely made in Italy.”