Dolce & Gabbana's new collection cast a wide net, with echoes of everything from Sicilian fishermen to A.C. Milan soccer players to the faceless millions Twittering on their smartphones. It was actually the social networking of this last lot that Stefano Gabbana insisted was the inspiration for clothes that used net every which way and loose. But that rather abstract connection was less appealing than the idea that the collection had been put together with more traditional nets in mind. Besides, isn't a Mediterranean fishing community one of the original social networks?
Netting defined the collection from T-shirt to toe. In leather, it was a blouson that had a romantic Capulet edge. In a fine meshlike version, it added shimmer to a fitted little military jacket. It was a veiled layer over shorts à la athlete, and the camo-nettinglike component of a flight suit. In a way, it was the masculine equivalent of the sheer fabrics that circle endlessly around womenswear, and, like that enduring peekaboo trend, it was a win-some, lose-some proposition. Best of the bunch were the roughest pieces, the ones that looked like they'd been literally stitched from net that had served another function. In other words, the Sicilian bits.
Backing that up, the sartorial black suit-white shirt side of the collection was strong, too. It might even be pointing to a surprising new customer base for the brand. Though the 12-pack paragon David Gandy paraded bare-chested down the catwalk a couple of times (preparatory to being borne through the streets of Milan in advance of his book-launch party in the designers' men's boutique tonight) it was Justin Bieber that Stefano Gabbana seemed more engaged by when he talked about the widening embrace of his business. The innate boyishness of a short-sleeved white shirt with an elasticized waist worn over slim black pants felt much more Bieber-ready than Gandy-worthy. Boyz II Men? No. Men II Boyz.