“It’s molto, molto, molto feminine and sexy,” Stefano Gabbana said before his Dolce & Gabbana label’s Milan fashion week show on Saturday afternoon. No surprise there, then, because the brand is arguably the world’s leading purveyor of sultry, dolce vita glamour. More refreshing, though it shouldn’t be, is the fact that the design duo chose this season to celebrate “women of all ages; it’s not just about Gen Z.”
In a world typically obsessed by youth – and in a change of course after collections geared to a social-media audience – Dolce & Gabbana were effusive in wanting to address “a more mature woman” and create clothes with a “sharp and precise fit… tailored perfectly for each woman’s body”.
The poster woman for Dolce & Gabbana’s grown-up collection was 53-year-old Naomi Campbell, who closed the show with her bum-length hair swaying behind her, and wearing a sheer lace sheath dress which exposed her bra, high-waisted pants and suspenders.
Campbell’s appearance, in the same week that Apple TV released The Super Models, a documentary looking back at the rise to stardom of Campbell and her peers in the 1990s, caused an eruption of cheers, which could never be elicited by any model half her age today, perfectly crystallising Dolce & Gabbana’s wish to honour older women.
For the brand’s customers next season, black is the new black, whether it’s in opulent tweed, delicate lace, flyaway chiffon or on figure-cinching tuxedos. Underwear became outerwear for anyone brave enough, and the message was that you didn’t need to be sample size to carry it off; plus-size model Ashley Graham looked glorious in a see-through halter-neck dress with exposed lingerie.
Riffing on their homage to a more senior generation, Dolce & Gabbana took the practical plastic macs and headscarves traditionally favoured by older women (there were echoes of Queen Elizabeth II at a country show) and made them desirable in glossy leopard print and fishnet patterns. Polka-dot tea dresses, pussy-bow blouses and flat shoes were all given Dolce oomph.
“We want to give women a chance to feel their best,” added Domenico Dolce, stressing that all the clothes would be adapted to be sensitive to the cultural particulars of their different customers across the globe.
Style over fashion was another key message in the collection. I saw the only pair of skinny jeans I can recall on a catwalk this season, after several shows dominated by trendy but tricky wide-leg denim. The tailoring and blouses were a timeless balm, too.
Campbell’s catwalk appearance comes after another supermodel outing in Milan. On Friday evening, Claudia Schiffer, also 53, returned to the catwalk after a five-year absence, closing the Versace show wearing a lime and silver harlequin-patterned slip dress. Thirty years after they first rose to fame, no one can compete with the magic of the original supermodels.