Looking Back To See The Present

Or, is Dolce and Gabbana simply stuck—caught between then and now?

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana open their spring/summer 2023 show with a model in underwear—white singlet and white Y-front briefs. This is possibly a new progressive; it is clearly not a new normal. Dolce & Gabbana could be refocusing their underwear business, or they could be encouraging men to go the Julia Fox way. Do not bother with inner or outer: if you like, just wear. Why be concerned with drawing lines and making distinctions? If women should not be ashamed of their bodies, regardless of what shape they’re in, or whether they are pregnant or not, men should not be too, since they have, presumably, less encumbrances to deal with. This is, of course, not the first time D&G has made singlets and briefs part of their presentation. But this is not an undergarment show. What were the opening two-piece other than lame—even futile— titillation?

Baring skin is happening so often on the runway (and off) these days that there is hardly anything fresh about the act. Even TikTok is peopled with those fellows willing to go topless, not just in their skivvies. What D&G could be prefacing with the first look is that there is more to the skin show to follow. And there is different-hued flesh peeking from tops that are holed, as if cloth moths had an overnight buffet. They are meticulously tatty so that the wearer could look insouciantly ragged—poor little rich boy. And in shredded pants, too—if Balenciaga can destroy sneakers, why can’t D&G do the same to their trousers? These are seriously ripped (destroyed might be a better word), as if to test the structural integrity of the fabric. One pair of jeans has at least ten slashes on each side of the front legs. It can’t be easy slipping into the jeans, but that’s not a consideration. Looking like a fashionable destitute takes considerable effort.

If the clothes seem somewhat rehashed (more lace shirts or religious icons?), that is because they are. The collection is titled Re-Edition, a look back at the brand’s output from 1991 to 2023 that has been prolific of the D&G hallmarks of tawdry—so desirable that there are those who had reportedly ask for them, many a time. It is doubtful that the tailoring, which, to be fair, they do well, is in such I-want-more demand. But a suit, for example, need not be brought back. D&G still offers them. To ‘update’ the selected looks of the past, they puncture the clothes and distress them (one SOTD follower calls the tatters “Sicilian street urchin revival”!) or have more holes by way of unlined openwork fabrics: lace, crochet, and open knits. To avoid the sum effect of looking like they correspond with the clothes of those without any means of subsistence, they pair some of them with proper clothes. The luxurious can go with the miserable.

Dolce & Gabanna would have been a stymied brand if not for the tremendous support of celebrities, such as Khloe Kardashian and the attendees of the nuptials of the former and Travis Barker. In fact, it was said that D&G “sponsored” the wedding. With considerable presence on the red carpet as well, the brand enjoys a visibility that have alluded many others offering just as flashy clothes. Banking on celebrity endorsement usually require tremendous product appeal, but D&G seems less reliant on the latter. To be certain, the brand is alluring to a very specific audience, for whom raucous has more merit than muted. That Dolce & Gabanna is loud is no visit to the past or present: They just are.

Screen shot (top): Dolce & Gabanna/YouTube. Photos: Dolce & Gabanna