When it came to sketching designs for Alta Sartoria, the haute couture menswear collection, Dolce & Gabbana had a very specific type of gentleman in mind.
Given the range of this discerning client’s interests and globetrotting, the 86 pieces needed to be equally versatile and far-reaching.
“He’s a tennis-playing, golf-loving equestrian who travels a lot,” says Dolce. “They’re not clothes for today or tomorrow, they have to be timeless.
“We therefore design without ‘a season’. Meaning, clients from London, New York, the Middle East and China might all be experiencing different seasons at the same time. It’s too complicated to do just a summer or winter collection. Why make it difficult for the client? No, instead we strike a good balance and make every collection seasonless.”
One of the sources of inspiration for last month’s Alta Sartoria was the sporting life of the 1930s. Polo shirts were reinvented in hermaline, jumpers were made from the finest cashmere silk, and sports jackets were brought to life with elaborately-embroidered crests and bejewelled crowns.
The accessories were also something to behold. They included crops, riding boots and portable shoeboxes crafted from the finest alligator. Completing the look were mink-covered riding helmets, oversized mittens and luxurious all-fur slippers.
Signature suits appeared in classic single and double-breasted fashion, with pleated and straight-leg trousers, while tuxedos and smoking jackets were layered with floor-length coyote and fox-fur coats, inspired by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's attire in the 1946 film, Road to Utopia.
High-octane eveningwear for men ran the gamut, from salmon-pink suits, trimmed in apple green with embroidered floral motifs, to pinstripe suits shining with real gold and silver thread.
The look and feel of Alta Sartoria this time around was also distinctly Greco-Roman neoclassic, with the ancient frescoes that cover the ceilings of D&G’s Milan atelier replicated on silk-printed pyjamas and robes.
“Stefano and I have an obsession with history and cultures,” says Dolce. “Without solid roots somewhere, or in something, nothing good can grow. So when we found this building, we wanted to restore it to its exact original state. It took six years, but we were happy to be patient.”
Rounding off the collection were kaftans, which were some of the quickest pieces to sell immediately after the show. The lightweight, luxe designs, which came in emerald green and midnight blue, were printed with miniature horse riders and tennis rackets, respectively.
“These kaftans are great for Middle East customers, because the region is so famous for its love of horses – it’s a huge part of the tradition,” says Gabbana.
“Whether our client is riding a horse, playing tennis or relaxing on his yacht, these kaftans are perfect.”
How masculine shapes made the cut with women
It’s not too surprising that after the unveiling of D&G’s Alta Sartoria line in Portofino last year, the designers were approached by women wanting to buy specific pieces. What did surprise them was that they weren’t buying the clothes for husbands or boyfriends – but for themselves.
“Ladies love the embroidery and long sleeves of the men’s collection, which they like to simply roll up,” says Gabbana. “The sartorial cuts of the jackets and blazers are perfect for wearing with jeans or trousers, for example, and women don’t want to change one button or shorten the length anywhere, at all. They love the strong, masculine shapes.”
Those sentiments were echoed at Alta Sartoria in Milan this year by Majorie Harvey, wife of American TV host Steve Harvey.
“My goodness, the show was really incredible,” she says. “I want the boot bag for myself, I loved the scarves and I would die for a couple of the jackets, too. It’s all about the tailoring, and with the suits, it’s amazing. I even loved the pyjama sets and matching robes.
“I was watching the show and saying to myself: ‘I could totally belt that, put some heels on and I’d be out the door, ready to go.’ It makes for a very chic look and I’m sure it would feel incredible.”
While Dolce & Gabbana say they have no intention of merging their men and women’s collections, they are delighted at the crossover appeal and will stitch Alta Sartoria-Alta Moda into special acquisitions.