By a poignant coincidence, the news of Richard Avedon's death reached Milan just as Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were referencing the great photographer's work for their spring collection. "Avedon for the beauty, and Penn for Africa," said Gabbana, gesturing toward a collage of seventies glamazons (Iman, Kelly LeBrock, Lauren Hutton, Rosie Vela, and Brooke Shields) torn from Vogue and pinned on the wall backstage.
Their key image must surely have been that famous photo of the naked Nastassja Kinski entwined with a snake. There was scarcely a single outfit in the entire collection that didn't involve python. It began with Naomi Campbell in a reptilian corset dress, with arms and neck full of tribal-deluxe metal jewelry simultaneously signaling Africa. That idea progressed into a vast continent of python-smothered outfits, from trenchcoats to Coco-esque jackets to jeans and evening gowns, not to mention boots, bangles, and minibags that swung from every available belt loop.
In their African theme, Dolce & Gabbana also struck on the current Milanese taste for raffia fringe and feathers (quail fluff on a blouson, exotic green plumes as a skirt, quills to create a hip-slung mini.) Along the way, they managed to work in their personal penchant for lingerie, inserting lace into denim and splicing it into the kick-pleats of a python skirt. There was the occasional signature pantsuit (now with a puff-sleeved jacket) and, of course, the usual tableau of major evening gowns for a grand finale.