Dolce & Gabbana convert Capri to couture haven

Duck behind the lavish scenes at Dolce & Gabbana's latest couture collection show, Alta Moda, which was revealed on the island of Capri to an exclusive, by-invitation-only guest list.
Domenico Dolce, left, and Stefano Gabbana, right, escort a model for the finale. Courtesy Matt Lever / James Cochcrane
Domenico Dolce, left, and Stefano Gabbana, right, escort a model for the finale. Courtesy Matt Lever / James Cochcrane

The Italian designer duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, of the eponymous fashion powerhouse, played host to 200 valued customers and VIP guests at their Alta Moda 2014 show last week. Known for dancing to their own fashionable beat, for the past two years Dolce and Gabbana have bucked the industry trend of unveiling their couture collections in Paris. Instead they have chosen to show the handcrafted creations in their homeland and resurrected the 1950s Italian equivalent of haute couture, Alta Moda. Their fall collection was framed by Capri’s dramatic Faraglioni rocks and proved the ultimate ode to Bella Italia.

The guests

D&G’s stylish invitees were transferred via helicopter or luxury launch boat to Capri from Naples on the mainland for an entire weekend of fashion and frivolity. Attendees included the Italian nobility and Agnelli family scions Coco and Bianca Brandolini d’Adda. The Canadian actress and poker player Jennifer Tilly also enjoyed the couture show, which took place in La Fontelina restaurant and beach club. No paparazzi were granted access to ensure that the identity of the maison’s most prized private clients be kept under silk wraps. The dress code of La Dolce Vita of the 1950s and 1960s saw men in lounge suits and ladies wear the label’s past and present prêt-à-porter or timeless couture.

The show

With seating unassigned, editors and high-spenders perched on sea-front deck chairs or colourful ottomans dotted around the coastal catwalk. The first model, clad in an arresting velvet corseted and striped crinoline ballgown, weaved her way around guests to strains of Andrea Bocelli, as the sun hung low in the sky. There were 78 looks in total with shades of citrine, navy and green ­reflecting the natural splendour of Capri. “We love this place,” said Dolce. “It’s wild, pure, unique – and so we sketched and hand-­painted a collection for this exact location.” Luxurious lynx capes draped over jewel-encrusted bathing suits were shown alongside ermine-tailed ponchos and fitted fur jackets. Classic Dolce & Gabbana lace dresses in black and white also featured, with transparent tulle panels exposing the intricate corsetry beneath. Priced upwards of €30,000 (Dh149,000) each, an undisclosed number of dresses sold before the show had finished with some of the fastest-moving made from antique 1960s fabrics, in jewel tones of aquamarine and ­emerald green.

The accessories

After the presentation, clients headed up to a private beach house via a staircase canopied by magenta bougainvillea. It was time to view the collection up-close and place first dibs on the one-off pieces. Dolce & Gabbana’s accessories were also housed there, from a solid gold bodice and watches to crowns adorned with priceless stones. Haute joaillerie rings and wraparound bracelets decorated with ruby-studded strawberries and yellow-diamond lemons proved popular accoutrements. As did parasols, inspired by majolica – brightly coloured Italian ceramics – which mirrored many gowns.

“Every piece in the collection is very dreamlike. For us it’s all about Italy – it’s the soul of Capri, it’s a Fellini fantasy,” said Gabbana of the acclaimed director of La Dolce Vita. Given the rocky terrain and to capture the essence of an island famed for its handmade flip-flops, flats were omnipresent at Alta Moda. Adorned with 18-carat gold and with an upper lining of astrakhan fur, Dolce & Gabbana’s footwear was accented with coral, pearls and precious stones. Other standouts included over-the knee and open-toed shaved mink booties, plus fox-fur sandal moon boots.

The hospitality

A familial feast took place after the show, with guests gathered around rustically decorated tables featuring fragrant lemon, rose petal and ­chilli-pepper centrepieces. A generous procession of antipasti, including polpettine di melanzane, preceded classic pasta dishes such as spaghetti alle vongole. With celebrations in full swing, fireworks at sea lit up the venue’s towering dolomite cliffs and signalled it was time to dance. The wrap party the following night, however, was to prove even more spectacular, with guests raising the roof of the legendary Taverna Anema e Core in the heart of Capri town. With ribboned and pom-pomed tambourines in hand, revellers took to the stage, or any given tabletop, to join the designers who led the singing and impassioned dancing.

rduane@thenational.ae

Published: July 22, 2014 04:00 AM

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