I f there's one Italian brand that has captured the essence of style and stitched it into seams, it's Dolce & Gabbana. Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce first started their namesake brand in 1985 and today have 222 boutiques around the world, including seven in the UAE. Following the design duo's visit to Dubai last month, Farouk Chekoufi for Buro 24/7 Middle East spoke to the designers about their role in the world of fashion, their Sicilian style and why designing for the Middle Eastern market was about translating their desire to meet women's needs...
Dolce & Gabbana has become an iconic brand. How did you create this style vision?
Stefano Gabbana: We have always followed our passion and our instinct. We create our collections and are inspired by everyday life, by the people we meet on the city streets, by the places we travel to and by our childhood memories.
Domenico Dolce: And from the movies, the art, the paintings. There is no set recipe. You have to get closer to things not just with your eyes but also with an open mind. In order to understand the desires of people, to see what their dreams are made of.
Your handbags and shoes are marvelous, how do you create such sought after accessories?
DD&SG: We try to always work in the same way, although it is different from creating clothes. They're both very interesting for us.
Beauty is a major part of your portfolio now to. Tell us about that...
SG&DD: We're so curious, we like working on everything; we're keen on fragrances, make up and skincare sector too. The Velvet line is very important for us.
Dolce & Gabbana has always been faithful to a style but what is today's vision for the brand?
SG&DD: The thing we care most about is the freedom of creation and that will always make us distinguishable. We need to feel like free men in order to give voice to our creativity.
How do you develop new ideas and keep up with the creative dialogue?
DD: By reading, researching books and old movies. And also by observing the new generations, their tastes and their habits. Today youngsters mix different styles together freely and change their looks more than once per day. We like this attitude a lot.
SG: Travel is fundamental for me.
How would you describe your style?
SG&DD: Dolce & Gabbana speaks of Italy and of being Italian, but it does this in all languages. We like the idea of bringing a bit of us everywhere we go: elegance, tailoring, the attention to detail, to shapes and proportions; at the same time maintaining local traditions and people's taste. But the most important thing is that we would like to make people dream and give them a sense of belonging to our collections.
What is the most extravagant detail you have included in the collection?
SG: The collection is extravagant, ironic, and inspired by fairy tales. There is Snow White's apple, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, an Alice in Wonderland checkered floor.
DD: But our princesses are unlike fairy tales princesses. Our girls are modern, independent and strong. They search for their prince charming with a male coat, or with a tailcoat that features military details: they are free and proactive.
We have to ask, how did you create the Abaya collection for the Middle Eastern market?
SG: We carried out a lot of research for this project. We wanted to be sure to understand local tastes and preferences. Then we took the Middle Eastern style and added a touch of Italian character.
DD: We also took into consideration the common elements that tie the Middle Eastern regions together and we transformed them into lace, embroidery, dresses, the colours of the sand and desert dunes, the perfumes and spices of the bazaar. We translated our desire of meeting women's needs from all over the world and of every culture into fabrics and shapes.
Do you check every single detail of a collection?
DD: We are obsessed with details. Caring for every single element to the smallest finishing touch. We work on everything with passion and dedication. This is also the beauty of working all together, switching roles, always finding something that surprises us, that makes us think, grow and learn.
SG: The result is the final step, the creative process and the realisation that the product requires dedication, passion, commitment and collaboration.
Why is Italy the centre of every collection?
DD: Because this is who we are, this is us, they are our history and where we come from. One should never forget their roots and traditions.
SG: We try to create dresses that embrace all of this!
People no longer want the product, they seek stories and emotions.
Every collection embraces the idea of the Sicilian woman - a woman that is a daughter, a mother and grandmother within - why?
SG: Because real women are mothers, grandmothers, wives...
How do two designers create a collection?
SG: Every collection comes to life in our minds like the story of a movie, with its characters, plot and set; we are the directors and the models our actresses. There are days where we work side-by-side and others where we work individually. Once a week we meet up and put our ideas on the table. This yes, this no, or do this differently...
DD: Being two is our secret. We already know what we both like, yet we still get surprised by each other. For example, I am the one that prefers a more polished, clean and linear style, while Stefano is more Baroque.
What is your opinion of the "see-now buy-now" concept?
SG&DD: We prefer to follow our own path without judging the choices of others. Everyone has their own road to follow, we do what we believe is best for us.
Also don't miss the sneak peek inside Dolce & Gabbana's new Paris boutique, which is open now.