Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda: A couture extravaganza in Capri
The full details of a divine show...
For most people, Haute Couture is traditionally associated with a week in Paris, but for the past two years the busy schedule in France ends with the attention switching to Italy, where press and key clients await Dolce & Gabbana's Alta Moda presentation.
Italian haute couture as a phenomenon – and as a business – is not necessarily news: Armani, Valentino, Giambattista Valli and revived house Schiaparelli each play an integral part when it comes to the inner sanctum of Parisian fashion, and the official schedule of couture approved by the Chambre Syndicale.
With this in mind, design duo Dolce & Gabbana have 'Italianised' their very own line of couture dresses, showing in Italy and calling it 'Alta Moda'. It's a bold move. The Alta Moda project, for Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, stems from true passion and major financial investment – and a lot of imagination.
Held in a variety of places in Italy and strictly on the day following the last haute couture show in Paris, guests are taken on a fascinating journey consisting of dinners, parties and other unique experiences that show off Italy in its finest light.
This season, the collection is dedicated to the legendary island of Capri – one of the most charming corners of our planet, passionately loved by both the bourgeoisie and bohemians for the past hundred years. Every corner of the island is full of history.
An invitation to Dolce & Gabbana's Alta Moda weekend was offered to very few few personally signed by the designers
The unique experience is the key to understanding the Alta Moda concept – the pair has always been clever when it comes to fashion marketing, and this case is no exception. Obviously, the modern Haute Couture client is young, wealthy and usually a very successful woman, and she is present in almost any major city in the world. Clothing, and fashion in general, has ceased to be a class divider like it was years ago.
Therefore the real difference here is the 'experience' – a unique situation, and Dolce & Gabbana understand this perfectly, choosing to draw it out over three full days instead of the usual 30-minute show.
Most guests flew (via private jet to nearby Naples) where they were soon transported to the island of Capri by mini speedboats, lavishly decorated with leaves and Sicilian lemons. At the hotel every guest was greeted with boxes of fruits and flowers, and gifts in the form of beach bags and sunglasses, books about the culture and history of Capri and other cute trinkets.
That same evening a gala dinner at Capri's famous restaurant Da Paulino was held under a canopy of lemon trees, a place where Lord Byron and Marilyn Monroe once frequented.
The next day was devoted to the sea and the sun, and in the late afternoon, a beautiful audience, arriving in "dolce vita" dress code, were brought by boat to the venue of the show a private bay surrounded by the Faraglioni rocks.
Needless to say, such rocky slopes and the scorching sun didn't provide the most convenient conditions for a fashion show. Make-up artist Pat McGrath and her team struggled with the heat, as did hairdresser Orlando Pita. Not that you can tell by their talented results.
As is becoming commonplace for the brand and its Alta Moda shows, the designers did not invite general press, except for a selection of hand picked editors and key representatives of international Vogue editions. Seating for show came on a first come first served basis, there was no hierarchy here.
Seating for show came on a first come first served basis, there was no hierarchy here
Anna Wintour was joined by colleagues Hamish Bowles and Suzy Menkes, Emmanuelle Alt, Victoria Davydova (Vogue Russia) and Alexandra Shulman. Other friends of the designers included ballet dancer Roberto Bolle, Eva Herzigova and actress Jessica Chastain, plus model and muse Bianca Brandolini and of course Anna Dello Russo.
With the mildly operatic music being played, the show began, with models walking in fur coats, capes and matching boots, and giant hoop skirts covered in stripes, exactly like the beach loungers, the guests were perched on, and they burst into applause as each look appeared.
Stefano and Domenico were specifically inspired by the history of Capri in the early 50s when eccentric bohemians and the artistic elite were free to live an unrestrained lifestyle that was not available to them in the city.
After the extravaganza of the show, guests moved under glittering awnings on Fontellina beach, followed by a dinner, during which the moonlight on the sea saw boats floating away with the couture bride from the show in her wedding dress – a splash of humour to finish things up.
the moonlight on the sea saw boats floating away with the couture bride from the show in her wedding dress – a splash of humour to finish things up
On the Saturday, the third day of the trip, guests were invited to try sailing and explore the boutiques of Capri, with guests gathering at the famous tavern Anema & Core ("Heart and Soul"), for a party – which began after midnight.
Guests were advised to wear "Italian 50s print", and that they did, revelling in a place where there are pictures of past guests that include Jacqueline Kennedy to Madonna wearing a Chanel suit and underpants... And a suitably raucous party ensued.