Dolce & Gabbana sure know how to whip up an Instagram frenzy. Running an hour behind schedule for its AW18 show, named 'Fashion Devotion' at Milan Fashion Week yesterday, when the first pieces finally came onto the catwalk, every phone in the house lit up. There were no models to be seen, but in their place: drones. The flying tech emerged from Dolce & Gabbana 'gates of heaven' (a fitting set for the show's religious message) showcasing a new range of top-handled chain-detailed bags in red, black, and white, with jewel-encrusted heart clasps.
Normality resumed once the levitating robots made their way down the catwalk, with the collection's devout theme becoming clear as the first model stepped out. Intricate black lace veils and papal hats covered models' heads, while sumptuous brocade dresses and regal purple velvet sweatshirts read 'Fashion Sinner', 'Fashion Is Beautiful' and 'Royal Love'. "We’re playing with our religion," Stefano Gabbana said to Vogue before the show, "but our religion is also fashion.”
With no religious iconography left unexplored, from clerical collars turned into shirt detailing and ornate crosses reimagined as extravagant earrings, to cherubs embroidered onto skirts and socks, the show was a love letter to fashion expressed via archetypal spiritual and reverent symbols. “It’s our life,” Domenico Dolce said of fashion, “the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is to make something.”
The show comes just a few months before this year's Met Ball, which, on the first Monday in May, will explore religion further. The theme, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, will delve into the complex relationship between fashion's leading creative directors, devotion and divinity. No doubt celebrity attendees will mine the Italian brand's AW18 collection for their looks.
The night before their prêt-à-porter show in Milan, rather than have an early evening in preparation, designers Domenico and Stefano hosted 'Secrets & Diamonds', an eveningwear-only show modelled entirely by Brits. Not just any Brits, of course. Dolce & Gabbana brought together the English elite by way of aristocracy, London's upper crust, and bona fide royals.
Names included Lady Kitty Spencer (Princess Diana's niece, and cousin of Princes William and Harry), Ladies Violet, Alice and Eliza Manners (according to Vogue, “the real-life Crawley sisters of London”), model Bee Beardsworth and her musician girlfriend Daisy Maybe, and Suki Waterhouse's younger sister, Maddi.
Wearing sparkling tiaras, souped-up dinner jackets, and embellished ruched dresses, Dolce & Gabbana's models for the evening looked at home amid the luxury and extravagance of it all – it could have easily been a debutantes' ball. The brand has made clear its fixation with the Insta-worthy faces of 'millennials' and Gen Z, with its SS18 campaign featuring Jude Law's son Rafferty, YouTuber Cameron Dallas (who has a cool 20.8m Instagram following), and Bea Fresson. The campaign also included their Instagram handles, because what's the point of being shot by one of the world's biggest fashion houses if people can't give you a follow afterwards?